Local preservationist Andrej Dajnowski will be restoring the Mount Olive Cemetery memorial of labor matriarch Mother Jones. (Courtesy Illinois Labor Historical Society)

Andrzej Dajnowski, head of Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio Inc. (CSOINC) in Forest Park, has won the contract to restore the “Mother Jones” monument in the Union Miners’ Cemetery in Mount Olive, Ill. The monument, an obelisk of granite bricks with a bronze medallion showing a likeness of Mother Jones, is the centerpiece of the cemetery where so many union miners lie. 

The project, soon to be scheduled, will take “one to two months,” according to Dajnowski, and will be conducted in phases. “Someone applied a supposedly durable coating, probably polyurethane” to the monument, said Dajnowski, “which is now blanching, making it look like something was spilled on it. That work was, of course, not done by a professional conservator, though the intention was good.” 

Phase one of the restoration is cleaning the stone and the joints. Dajnowski said local union workers have offered to donate their labor for the tuckpointing. Phase two is removal of the inappropriate coating material. Phase three is evenly adjusting the patina, and the finishing touch will either be a wax coating that needs to be reapplied annually, or an acrylic coating that can last about 10 years. 

Dajnowski is familiar with many historically important monuments in his specialized field. His studio just completed the Lorado Taft “Alma Mater” for the University of Illinois and is responsible for the restoring and maintaining the Haymarket Martyrs monument in Forest Park’s Forest Home Cemetery. He also recently received a commission to restore the statue of Sauk-tribe War Leader Black Hawk on the Rock River. Anyone interesting in supporting the project may send donations to: 

Mother Jones Monument Fund c/o Illinois AFL-CIO, 534 S. Second St., Springfield, IL 6270 or contact Resource Director Amy Rueff at 217-492-2633.

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