Original Centre Street Bridge lion to be preserved for park exhibit
Concrete sculpture 1 of 4 placed on newly built crossing in 1917
One of the four original concrete lions that guarded Calgary's Centre Street Bridge for more than 80 years will be restored and put on display in a nearby park, the city says.
The lions were first placed atop the four corners of the bridge when it opened in 1917. They were made to resemble the bronze lions at the base of the Nelson monument in London's Trafalgar Square, according to the city's website.
By 1999 the lions were cracked and crumbling and beyond repair, it was decided. Replacement lions were installed on the bridge when major renovations to the bridge were completed in 2000.
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"Displaying one of the historic Centre Street Bridge lion sculptures in a public setting is a poignant tribute to our city's past," said city arts and culture manager Sarah Iley in a release.
The original southwest lion was preserved and used as the casting mould for the new ones. It was moved to the entrance of City Hall in 2003.
The original northeast lion — identified as being in the best condition among the remaining three — will now be restored and re-located to Rotary Park, overlooking Centre Street, in time to mark the 100th anniversary of the bridge.
"Emphasis will be on preserving, conserving and repairing the lion, not on fully restoring it," said Calgary Heritage Authority vice chair Sarah Meilleur in a release.
"The goal is to honour its heritage, paying a genuine and well deserved tribute to the lion as one of Calgary's artifacts."