After standing for more than a century, it only took a couple hours to bring down the landmark flagpole in downtown Ravenna.
The 150-foot-tall flagpole was gently lowered to the ground about 10:15 a.m. Tuesday after about two-thirds of it was swung gently away from the remaining base at the corner of Main and Chestnut streets. Then, crews cut away bolts and rivets covered with decades of paint and corrosion, separating the pieces so they could be loaded onto a flatbed trailer.
The pieces have been taken to Newbury Sandblasting in Geauga County where they will be stripped down to bare metal, repaired and recoated.
Jack Schafer, a local businessman, and attorney Peggy DiPaola, who head Friends of the Flagpole, were on hand to watch the structure come down. Schafer watched carefully as work progressed. After the pole was on the ground, one mystery was explained -- the ball at the top of the pole.
For years, the ball leaned off center, looking like it could fall off at any time.
Once safely on the ground, Schafer and others found that the ball was hollow, made of aluminum -- and not original. The ball was connected to a pipe that sleeved into a larger pipe at the top of the flagpole. Someone had used wire and something like automotive bonder to secure the ball years ago.
Schafer said the culmination of the group's two years of work will come in about a month when the refurbished flagpole, with its distinctive lattice support structure, will be re-erected on a new concrete base, ready for another century. Ravenna Township trustees, who own the flagpole, plan to add improved lighting and a decorative fence around the base.
Several dozen people stood on sidewalks and on the courthouse square, watching the action Tuesday morning.
Crews started early Tuesday and had the top of the pole cabled to a large crane by about 10 a.m.
Police closed Main Street to traffic from Park Way to Prospect Street when workers started cutting away the rivets to let the top separate from the base.
After a few minutes of gentle persuasion, the pole and superstructure swung free and was lowered to South Chestnut Street. By about noon it was over except for loading up the pieces.
There was a brief cheer from spectators when the pole lifted away.
DiPaola said the Friends of the Flagpole is still accepting donations toward the refurbishment. When it started its campaign in April 2012, the friends group set a $130,000 goal.
She said the group wants to install a historic marker at the base of the flagpole.
"We are going to apply to the National Register," for it as well. "And that takes money," she said.
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