On Sunday, September 20th, the Austin Fire Museum will be conducting its semi-annual open house for Austin Museum Day 2009. We’ll be open from about 1230PM to 5PM. This year we have a very special event planned. Several months ago friends and family of Shawnee, Kansas Fire Chief Verne McNatt approached the Austin Fire Museum wishing to honor his passing with a memorial in the Austin area. The Austin Fire Museum gratefully accepted donations to assist with the meticulous restoration of a unique treasure of Austin Fire Department history in memory of Chief McNatt’s dedicated commitment to his community and profession.
The Austin Fire Museum had an 1894 oil painting of Fire Chief Russell which was badly deteriorating. There was a golf ball size hole in his head and the paint was flaking off all over the picture. With the amount of money raised by Chief McNatt’s family and friends we thought that restoring this beautiful piece of art was the most appropriate project to benefit the Museum and honor McNatt’s legacy.
We hired Austin Galleries to do the restoration and they did a terrific job. We’ll reserve posting pictures of the finished piece until after the event so you’ll have to come out to the museum at 2PM on the 20th in order to see the unveiling. We’ve posted a couple of pictures from before the restoration for you to see how badly deteriorated the painting was.
The painting of Chief Russell was done by W. P. Ford, who was also a Fire Chief for the Austin Fire Department in the mid-1890′s during the volunteer era.