KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The restored torch at the top of the Liberty Memorial in Kansas City will be reignited Friday with improvements that could save the memorial thousands of dollars a year in energy costs.
The steam "flame" has been visible for decades in Kansas City, but was largely shut down for about a year for work that included revamping the 1920s steam mechanism that produced the flame effect, The Kansas City Star reports.
The restored torch, which will be lit Friday, is the final piece in a nearly $5 million package of improvements that included repairs to the monument's limestone. The memorial, which was built after the Kansas City community raised $2.5 million in just 10 days after World War I, was dedicated in 1926 by President Calvin Coolidge.
"The flame has, over the years, come to not only symbolize the sacrifice of those who served in World War I but also all veterans who served," said Denise Rendina, vice president of public relations and marketing for the Liberty Memorial Association. "It's also an important part of the Kansas City landscape."
There has never been an actual flame on top of the Liberty Memorial tower. The flame effect comes from steam that's produced in a boiler below the memorial's deck and piped up the 217-foot tower where it's released through vents that are flanked by powerful lights with red and orange lenses.
The system had cost the memorial about $100,000 a year in energy bills. But the work done to improve it, including adding a new sensor and valve system, could end up saving about $30,000 a year.
"We want to be good stewards of the funding that we have, but we have to make sure that the flame is historically accurate," Rendina said. "We're thrilled it's going to be able to come back on. We know people have missed it and we appreciate everyone's patience."