WINCHESTER — After a more than four year absence, the replica of the Old Jake weather vane has been returned to its perch at the top of the Rouss Volunteer Fire and Rescue company.
The weather vane was lifted up by a crane and placed on the roof Friday morning. The 6-foot-tall copper replica was damaged in February 2013 and removed from atop the 19th-century firehouse at 3 S. Braddock St. for repairs.
Artisan Jeff Greene, of Woodbury, Conn., crafted the replica and repaired its outer skin when it came apart at the knee and thigh. The Old Jake replica had been in place since May 2011 before it was eventually taken down, according to previous reports in The Winchester Star.
Washington, D.C., resident Martha Bartlett, great-granddaughter of city benefactor Charles Broadway Rouss, for whom the firehouse is named, said she was “thrilled” the Old Jake replica is back up.
Bartlett paid $9,000 to have the replica weather vane made after the original — which is worth millions of dollars — was taken down in 2008 by the fire company to be sold at auction. She previously said she had the replica of Old Jake made so it would remain atop the firehouse bearing her great-grandfather’s name and part of the city’s skyline.
Although Bartlett had previously said she was disappointed that the Old Jake replica was not on the skyline, she said Friday that since she had given it away, she couldn’t say that the weather vane was her business.
“You have to give it and forget about it,” she said. “Needless to say, I’m glad it’s been put up. It might be appreciated from a view.”
Local antique enthusiast Linda Ross, who is a close friend of Bartlett’s, said she was excited when she heard the news of the Old Jake replica going up, since Winchester “needs to remember its legacy.” She said Bartlett really wanted the replica to be seen and for a long time neither of them was able to get an answer for when it would be restored to the roof.
“She knows the great importance of that weather vane because weather vanes of that size and age are becoming pretty rare because they are being sent to sell in various places,” Ross said. “They are either being destroyed or damaged by winds [and] lighting bolts.”
How the fire company was able to manage returning the Old Jake replica to the top of its building remains a mystery.
Rouss Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company President Vernon Clark previously said that somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000 was needed to return the Old Jake replica the top of the fire company. According to Clark, the money would be used to “get everything up to [building] code.”
The Star contacted the Rouss Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company on Friday to see if the repairs had been completed or if the money had been raised to do the repairs, but was given no information.
City Communications Manager Amy Simmons said Friday that the city had nothing to do with the weather vane returning and does not know where the money might have come from to help get it back on the roof.
The original Old Jake, circa 1850, is on loan to the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley on Amherst Street, since the high bid for it at auction did not meet the undisclosed reserve price. Having been constructed of molded copper and standing 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide, the original Old Jake is considered a rare and important piece of American folk art.
— Contact Josh Janney at firstname.lastname@example.org