Cannon movin' on up to new plaza
Restoration of WWI cannon, construction of veterans plaza at Y funded by donations
Workers from Wanner Metal Worx prepare to lift the city of Delaware's World War I cannon from its location at the Point on Monday, Aug 5. The cannon will be refurbished and displayed at a new veterans plaza. Buy This Photo
The World War I-era cannon that's known for "welcoming" visitors traveling into Delaware was put into storage Monday, Aug. 5, where it awaits a nobler fate.
A crane lifted the artillery from its place underneath a pavilion at the Point intersection, where Central Avenue intersects with William Street.
It was placed on a flatbed truck headed to Wanner Metal Worx, a Delaware company that will restore the cannon so it can take a prominent spot at Veterans Plaza, planned to debut in August 2014 near the entrance to the Delaware YMCA on Houk Road.
Owners Rick and Craig Wanner are on the committee that's spearheading the planning and fundraising for the plaza. The brothers are donating the estimated $15,000 to $20,000 worth of work it will take to move, store and restore the cannon during the next year.
"This is really huge for us," said committee and Delaware City Council member Carolyn Kaye Riggle, who asked the Wanners to join the committee at its first meeting in June.
The cost for the entire project could fall in the mid-$500,000 range, memorial committee leader Steve Cuckler said.
Rick Wanner said providing the services gratis to the committee that's paying for the memorial entirely with donated funds seemed natural, because he served in the Marines while his brother Craig was in the Navy.
"You give back for your appreciation of where you've been and those who've sacrificed for you," Wanner said. "It's just a little token of appreciation to the memorial site and to past, current and future servicemen and -women who've been sacrificing for our lives and our benefit."
Workers will begin power-washing the cannon this week to determine how much needs to be done to restore it to its original condition, Wanner said. Meanwhile, the wooden wheels on the cannon will be sent to a separate restorer.
Resident and former Marine Jim Titus, who has become the local historian on the German-made cannon, will consult with the companies during the restoration to ensure the finished product is genuine to its 1890s roots.
The cannon that was given to the city in 1919 was the motivation behind the Veterans Memorial Plaza, first announced in May.
"We originally met to figure out what we're going to do with the east-side cannon, because you see it pointing at you and you don't know what it is and you can't get over to see it," Cuckler said in June.
The plans to simply restore the cannon turned into making it more accessible through the memorial.
Renderings of the future plaza show it will be large enough to fit up to 300 seats for special events.
The site was chosen to complement the Army National Guard armory planned for land near the YMCA. Once complete, it is expected to feature a WWI memorial marker and a wall with plaques that will honor all military branches and U.S. members who served in WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War.