Volunteers Cleaning and Restoring Memorials in George Washington Park


With Memorial Day now less than two weeks away, members of the Bricklayers Local 1 Washington and Alaska union are volunteering their time and labor to clean and restore both the Freedom Walk War Memorial and The Sentinel statue at George Washington Park in Centralia this week. 

While the City of Centralia paid for the materials needed to restore both monuments, the actual work and cleanup is being conducted free of charge thanks to union members Chris Ellis, Juan Tapia and Justin France. Tapia specializes in historical stone restoration work, while Ellis is a marble and tile specialist and France is a marble specialist.

Ellis said The Sentinel statue is in desperate need of restoration, as water damage is threatening to break the statue’s foundation apart. 

“What we’re doing is we’re grinding out all the old mortar that had broken and had water seep in, freeze and then expand,” Ellis said. “That’s what is happening to it. Whenever the water freezes, it pushes the side out a little more.” 

The new mortar will keep water out and prevent further deterioration. They also plan on drilling and installing support pins to keep the stone slabs that make up the statue's foundation from falling down in the future should further water damage occur. 

In addition to the new mortar, the crew will also replace the mortar on the Freedom Walk War Memorial and will pressure wash both the Freedom Walk and The Sentinel once restoration efforts are complete. 

“I was in a meeting with Peter (Lahmann) a couple of months ago and he brought it up that the restoration needed to be done and we said we’d do it and try to get it done by Memorial Day,” Ellis said. 

A member of the Centralia Historical Preservation Commission, Lahmann has experience in road construction work but not in stone masonry, so he helped facilitate the restoration efforts instead. 

Additionally, Lahmann helped get the Freedom Walk created in 1993 by gathering names for it and overseeing its construction. The Freedom Walk displays the names of 355 names of Lewis County veterans killed in action going all the way back to World War I. 

“Centralia Monument did the stonework and engraving. It’s American black granite. The Vietnam Memorial in D.C. is foreign granite,” Lahmann said. 

Ellis expects restoration work to be completed by Friday, though should weather delay their efforts, they still have all of next week to finish their work before Memorial Day. 

The American Legion is tentatively planning on holding its Memorial Day service at George Washington Park on May 29 at 2:30 p.m. according to Lahmann, though the time may still change.