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“Return Visit” is back home

After four months of renovation at the Seward Johnson Atelier of Hamilton, NJ, the iconic sculpture “Return Visit” was reinstalled on the northeast corner of Lincoln Square today.

One of the most commonly photographed tourist attractions in the borough, the work depicts “the common man” with Abraham Lincoln, illustrating the relevance of the Gettysburg Address to the present-day.

The statue looks the same as it did before the work, but is noticeably brighter.  The “Common Man’s” sweater seems to have been dry cleaned.

The statue, commissioned by the Lincoln Fellowship of Pennsylvania in 1991 and sculpted by J. Seward Johnson, commemorates Lincoln’s November 1863 visit to Gettysburg.

The restoration was paid for by the Pennsylvania Lincoln Fellowship, the same organization that commissioned and installed it on the Square 31 years ago.

Fellowship Vice President Kenneth Kime said the painted statue had been washed every year using local fire department trucks, but that it had been looking faded over the past few years. “The atelier recommended the statue be completely stripped and repainted,” he said.

Kime said the statue had made an important contribution to the borough and its many tourists.  “It’s never been vandalized and never created and injuries.” 

But Kime said he remembered a time during the pandemic when the “common man” was seen sporting a hospital mask.

Kime said the restoration cost over $22,000, but that the sculpture should not need another cleaning for at least 25 years.

In addition to maintaining “Return Visit,” the Lincoln Fellowship also sponsors the 100 Nights of Taps summer program as well as the annual Dedication Day events on Nov. 19.

Featured image caption: The “common man,” President Lincoln, and Kime.

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Charles Stangor is Gettysburg Connection's Publisher and Editor in Chief.

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