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Contact: Chris Cate
Communications Director

Secretary Detzner Announces Restoration of Historic Natural Bridge Monument Eagle

Archaeological conservation lab conserves and restores historic artifact

Tallahassee, Florida –

Secretary of State Ken Detzner today announced that the Florida Department of State’s Bureau of Archaeological Research is working with Florida State Parks to restore a historic copper eagle sculpture that has stood atop a monument in Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park, just 12 miles south of Tallahassee, since the 1920s.

“The copper eagle is immediately recognizable to anyone who has visited Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park,” said Secretary Detzner. “Restoring a piece of history is always special, but this is unique because our conservation lab is restoring a historic sculpture for a historic site.”

The department’s Bureau of Archaeological Research and the Florida Park Service have also partnered with the University of South Florida’s Alliance for Integrated Spatial Technologies to use laser scanning to create a 3D model of the eagle, document and interpret areas of loss and create a mold with which a fiberglass replica will be produced. Once restored by the conservation lab, the original copper eagle will be placed on display in an educational center at the park, while an exact fiberglass replica, constructed using the 3D modeling technology, will be replaced atop the monument.

The copper plate eagle was removed from the Natural Bridge monument in the summer of 2011. As part of the restoration process, the copper will be thoroughly cleaned. Holes created by years of low and high caliber gunfire directed at the eagle will be filled with tinted and bulked epoxy. The fill material will then be in-painted to match the original copper patina.

The Natural Bridge monument was built to commemorate the 1865 Battle of Natural Bridge that, in the waning weeks of the Civil War, preserved Tallahassee as the only Confederate Capitol east of the Mississippi that did not surrender to Union forces. Authority to erect the monument was granted by an act of the Florida Legislature in 1921. Through the efforts of the Natural Bridge Historical Society and the Daughters of the Confederacy, in conjunction with the Florida Park Service, the granite monument on which the eagle was placed has been re-mortared and a fence consistent with the one erected in the 1920s is currently under fabrication.

The 35th annual reenactment of the Battle of Natural Bridge, commemorating the 147th anniversary of the Civil War battle will take place March 3 and 4, 2012. For more information about the reenactment or the park, visit

About Florida’s Archaeological Conservation Lab

The Florida Bureau of Archaeological Research conservation lab, housed in the Department of State’s R.A. Gray Building in Tallahassee, is responsible for the stabilization, preservation and security of nearly half a million artifacts. Annually, the laboratory conserves thousands of artifacts from state lands and waters. Archaeological objects treated by the lab have been excavated from both maritime and terrestrial sites. The conservation lab is specially equipped and designed to accommodate and stabilize both large and small objects. Artifact material types range from metals (iron, copper, tin, lead, silver and gold) to inorganic materials including wood, leather, rope and textiles. Typical artifacts for conservation include cannons, anchors, prehistoric Native American canoes, cannonballs, artillery shells, architectural components, guns, bayonets, leather shoes and coins – just to name a few.

More than 16,000 artifacts are currently out on loan to various museum and research institutions. These loaned materials extend both statewide and nationally, and have been enjoyed by visitors to the Museum of Florida History, McLarty Treasure Museum In Vero Beach, Museum of Natural History in New York, the Field Museum in Chicago, Cincinnati Museum, Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum, History Miami, Museum of Science and History in Jacksonville, as well as numerous state parks. Research loans have also been established with several Florida universities, including the University of North Florida, University of Florida, University of West Florida, University of South Florida and Florida State University. The conservation lab provides contract services for institutions that require treatment, but lack access to the facilities and conservation expertise necessary for their treatment. Facility tours are available to school groups and interested parties.