Hermann gets checkup

Madelyn Sundberg with MacDonald & Mack Architects and Amy Elizabeth Uebel of EverGreene Architectural Arts examine the brick and windows of the Hermann Monument from an elevated vantage point. Staff photo by Clay Schuldt

NEW ULM — Hermann is undergoing a thorough checkup this week. Engineers and specialists with the MacDonald & Mack Architects firm are conducting a comprehensive conditions assessment of the monument.

This assessment is step one in plans to restore the monument for future generations. Before restoration work can begin, a report documenting all problem areas and potential solutions is needed.

MacDonald & Mac Architects have worked on similar historic building projects since 1976.

New Ulm Park and Rec Facility Maintenance Supervisor Ryan Weier said the team working on the project includes mechanical engineers, structural engineers and material specialists.

Weier said these three groups will look at the entire monument and determine the cause and effect of problem areas in the monument.

Moisture issues have been a top concern at the monument for some time. There are also questions about the stability of the granite footing and the Kasota stone base. The firm is also looking into lighting, electrical and decorative design of the historic monument.

Weier said one of the challenges of assessing the monument is taking into account all the materials that make up Herman monument. The list of materials includes bricks, cement, stone and metal.

The firm started by doing a laser scan of the monument to determine the basic specs. Next, they began examining the foundation, which involved digging holes next to the structure.

They have confirmed Hermann has an 8 to 10-foot stone foundation.

These excavations are necessary with Hermann, because the original specs and designs for the monument are lost.

The lead architect on the assessment, Stewart MacDonald, said there were many alterations done to the monument over the years. Another purpose of the assessment is to determine what parts of the monument are original and which were added later.

“We are looking at every door and window,” MacDonald said “and the columns and decorations at the top.”

MacDonald said part of the moisture problem might be related to the gunite concrete used in creating the monument. He explained that gunite was used to construct in-ground pools because it is water resistant. During the original construction the gunite was probably used to prevent water infiltration, but now there is evidence the material is keeping water locked inside the monument.

On a positive note, Hermann is doing fine. The statue was repaired in 2004 and a quick review of Hermann confirmed the actual statue is holding up well.

The assessment will continue Wednesday, but the monument should be open to visitors by Thursday.

MacDonald & Mack Architects will have a completed assessment with a report for the city by the end of the year.

The Hermann Monument was completed in 1897, after architect Julius Berndt was inspired by a similar monument in Detmold, Germany. The statue was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

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