Weather vane to receive repairs

Posted: February 26, 2013

The Winchester Star

Matthew Lucas with the Charley Rouss Fire Company helps remove the Old Jake replica that was on the fire company tower at the corner of Braddock and Boscawen streets Monday night. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Tim Clark (left), president of Charley Rouss Fire Company, and his father, Vernon Clark, company vice president, rest the damaged weather vane inside the station after it was observed bending on the roof and removed from its perch.
TOPRIGHT: Firefighters from the Charley Rouss Fire Company use a ladder truck Monday night to remove the Old Jake replica that has kept watch from the top of the fire station tower for almost two years. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
BOTTOMRIGHT: Jerry Fultz, a firefighter with the Charley Rouss Fire Company, descends the ladder carrying the base of the replica, which replaced the original after it had graced the Winchester skyline for nearly 150 years. The replica was removed after a resident noticed it appeared to be damaged.
BOTTOMLEFT: Members of the Charley Rouss Fire Company secure the replica after it was removed from the ladder truck. Fire company members suspect it was damaged by wind. It appeared separated at the knees.

WINCHESTER — Likely felled by winds he was put there to rotate with, the replica of a historic city weather vane has been taken down.

Personnel from Charley Rouss Fire Company at 3 S. Braddock St. removed the replica of “Old Jake” from the roof of their building Monday night after noticing that it was bending and perhaps in danger of falling.

The original Old Jake — a 6-foot tall, 50-pound copper firefighter — graced the top of the Charley Rouss Fire Company building for nearly 150 years before being taken down in 2008.

The replica — which was made with the help of a $9,000 donation from Rouss’s great-granddaughter, Martha Barlett of Washington, D.C. — didn’t last nearly as long, coming down after only 23 months.

Tim Clark, president of Charley Rouss Fire Company, said the plan is to repair the replica and return it to its perch.

An immediate examination of the damaged weather vane by fire company personnel after moving it to a table inside the fire company showed that the inner frame — constructed of slender copper poles — was still intact.

But the outer skin — also made of copper — had come apart at the knees and was coming loose at the left thigh.

Clark said it was unclear what caused the damage but guessed that the culprit was wind.

The original Old Jake is on loan to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley on Amherst Street.

The weather vane was sent to New York to be auctioned at Sotheby’s in 2008, but fire company officials decided not to sell it when it the highest bid of $2.1 million failed to meet an undisclosed reserve price.

The damage to the Old Jake replica was spotted by Sandy Campbell of Winchester, who noticed on her drive home from work shortly after 5 p.m. that the weather vane was bent.

“I knew it wasn’t right,” she said.

Afraid Jake could fall and injure someone, Campbell called her husband, who is a volunteer firefighter at Charley Rouss Fire Company.

Personnel from the company sprung into action, blocking off traffic and extending a truck ladder from the street to the injured Jake’s side.

At 6:46 p.m., after he was secured with a rope, Jake was lifted off the pin on which he spins.

Clark was unsure who the fire company will go to for the necessary repairs. He hasn’t spoken to Connecticut artisan Jeff Greene — who constructed the replica — in some time and Clark said last he knew, the man had serious health issues.

After gliding through the air tied to the firetruck ladder, Jake touched down shortly before 7 p.m.

It remains to be seen when he will return to his perch.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com