Main Street in Joseph will be missing a couple of its bronze inhabitants for a time thanks to a grant from the Wildhorse Foundation. The two bronzes, “Chief Joseph” and “Garden Walk,” are slated for restoration work at the Valley Bronze foundry in Joseph. The Chief Joseph bronze stands at the corner of Main Street and Joseph Avenue while “Garden Walk” is located at Main Street and East First Street.
“I don’t want anyone to panic when they see one or the other missing,” said Mike Lockhart, member of the Joseph Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of the Wallowa Lake Tramway. He applied for the grant on behalf of the chamber.
Lockhart still served on the Joseph City Council when he put out feelers to see what kind of money was available for the refurbishment.
“I wrote a grant to the Wildhorse [Foundation], and I got a grant. I asked for $20,000 and got $11,000,” Lockhart said. “I was lucky enough to get the $11,000.” He added that he had specifically asked for restoration and patina work on the Chief Joseph bronze in the request.
“There’s some uncertainties with the Chief Joseph statue because of its foundation and the removing of it when we bring it in,” he said. Because of this, there is some difficulty in establishing an accurate budget for the whole project. “We don’t know the exact cost of what that will be, but we are required under the grant to finish those two statues.” He added that it’s possible to squeeze in another statue for restoration. Valley Bronze was chosen because the chamber wanted to hire the work out locally.
Valley Bronze production manager, Gary Gassett, said the firm was glad to get the work.
“We’re excited to do the work for the city of Joseph,” he said. “We want everyone to see him at his best.”
Valley Bronze will start to work on the Chief Joseph bronze in the next week or so.
“No one stole him,” Lockhart said with a laugh.