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Washington DC's Union Station

This project included the conservation and restoration of 40 Legionnaire statues in Washington DC's Union Station.

washington dc union station


Location: Washington DC
Built: Circa 1907
Original Architect: Daniel Burnham
Style: Classical, Beaux-Arts
Status: National Historic Landmark


"Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC) hired John Canning & Co. to clean, repair, and restore the 36 Roman Legionnaire statues that adorn Union Station’s Main Hall at the balcony level. This was the first major project of the statuary in Washington, DC’s multimodal station since the 1986-1988 restoration. As the project manager, I could not be happier with the experience of working with Canning. Their professionalism, expertise, and communication made it easy to work with them. In particular, they were adept at balancing their work with the daily atmosphere at one of the busiest stations in the country and accommodating the needs of various stakeholders at Union Station. Throughout the restoration, Canning diligently cleaned and repaired the statuary. They uncovered details on the statues previously unknown to USRC and skillfully documented each stage of the project. The quality of the company’s work has been so superb that numerous commuters, tourists, historic preservation agencies, and news outlets in the nation’s capital have responded with high praise. Due to the impressive work of John Canning & Co., the Roman Legionnaire statues stand brighter and bolder today "

The project included the conservation and restoration of 36 Legionnaire statues overlooking the main hall and an additional 4 Legionnaire along the west hall exterior wall of historic Washington Union Station. Designed by Louis Saint-Gaudens in 1906 and installed in 1914, the Legionnaires are modeled after ancient Roman soldiers and are a protective force to all who travel through the station. The project began with an initial assessment to document and assess the conditions of each statue. Based on the assessment, treatment included repairs to the Keen cement and plaster statues, developing a conservation cleaning agent, and inpainting areas of repair and loss.

Following the AIC Guidelines and Code of Ethics, each statue was documented before, during, and after treatment. The station remained opened to the public and work was scheduled to accommodate scheduled events, store and restaurant hours, and general pedestrian traffic and safety.