By LINDA KOLMODIN
November 27, 2019
Architectural conservation is the process through which the material, historical and design integrity of any structure is prolonged through carefully planned interventions.
With Albion’s historic 1922 Coca-Cola sign, this means discovering the original colors and design, preparing the surface properly, so that there is no leeching from inappropriate tuckpointing, and ensuring that the restoration colors last for as long as possible in the elements.
This is not sign painting but rather preservation and an artistic return to the documented original look. There are few conservators, in this very specialized field, willing to undertake this restoration because of the sign’s location over the Kalamazoo River.
The conservators, Building Arts & Conservation Inc, from nearby Saline, have over 40 years of combined expertise in the fields of conservation and historic preservation. This firm will be undertaking conservation of Albion’s historic sign. Ron Koenig, owner/architectural conservator, began his conservation career in 1988 working as an artisan on restoration of the Michigan State Capitol. He holds an MS in Architectural Conservation from the University of Pennsylvania. His undergraduate degrees are in History is from the University of Michigan and University of Detroit in English.
Koenig has worked on several important buildings including the Wisconsin State Capitol, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Avery Cooley House, Midland County Courthouse and Meadow Brook Hall. Ron was the Director of Building Conservation of the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village for several years before establishing his own conservation firm.
Koenig worked on the restoration of the interior lights at the historic Bohm Theatre so he is familiar with our Albion community.
“I am excited to begin working on the restoration of the Coca-Cola sign,” Koenig stated. “I enjoyed getting to know Albion while working on the Bohm and appreciate all it has to offer.” He also noted that restoration of the sign will provide unique challenges because of its location over the river. Ron said he and his team are interested in working with community volunteers and is collaborating with Albion College to provide internships in historic preservation for several students. He is working with art department professors Michael Dixon and Bille Wickre to coordinate this. He also hopes to provide information on careers in historic preservation to Albion College art students.
In addition to Koenig, COO and partner/owner, Terri Sibo-Koenig, lends her extensive project management to make sure the projects are on-time, on-task and on-budget, along with adding her artistic skills to the restoration team. Sibo-Koenig worked for 12 years at the Henry Ford Museum and is active in historic preservation in Saline. She is chair of the Saline Historic District Commission and board member of the Saline Area Historical Society. Sibo-Koenig has also served two terms city councilwoman and often volunteers with Saline Main Street and other community organizations.
Restoration of the historic Coca-Cola sign will begin this spring when the weather is favorable. Mural documentation will take 5-7 days and mortar repointing and repair takes 4-5 days with 28 days to cure. The restoration of the mural paint is expected to take 10-14 days.
Conservator fees cover mural documentation, mortar repair/repointing, preparation of the wall, restoration of the mural paint and final sealing of the completed sign. In addition, the conservation team will obtain all necessary permits and make sure all OSHA safety regulations and EPA environmental measures are adhered to during preparation and painting.
The restoration project was made possible by the generosity of community members and others who donated to the Patronicity matching grant campaign. The campaign through the Albion Community Foundation is led by volunteer Co-chairs Janet Domingo and Linda Kolmodin. The campaign has raised more than $50,000 locally so that $50,000 will be added by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation toward restoration of the iconic sign and two other commissioned art pieces. The art works include a statue of a Tee Ball player to commemorate its founding in Albion by Jerry Sacharski and a mural celebrating the town’s foundry heritage both designed to enhance the ongoing downtown revitalization.
Linda Jansen Kolmodin has been a resident of Albion since 1981. Originally from North Muskegon Michigan, she was a special education teacher for Olivet Community Schools for 18 years. Since that time, public relations and writing have been the focus of Kolmodin’s work.
Most recently, the successfully funded Coca-Cola mural restoration project for downtown Albion Michigan benefitted from the volunteer efforts of Linda Kolmodin. She is involved in many Albion organizations including the Albion Community Foundation and the Albion-Homer United Way. She is a graduate of U of M, with a Master’s Degree from EMU in Special Education.
- Stories by Linda Kolmodin – albionmich.net/writer-kolmodin/
- The Coca-Cola mural restoration project:
This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
© 2019 The Recorder Newspaper. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of The Recorder.