FOREST PARK, Ill. (CBS) — The famed “Alma Mater” sculpture at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign is returning home today and will be put in place back on campus on Thursday after spending two years being restored in west suburban Forest Park where it turned heads on moving day.

WBBM’s Terry Keshner reports Andrzej Dajnowski and his crew spent two years restoring the sculpture at his studio in west suburban Forest Park.

“The main problem was the bolts on the inside, all of them were corroded…20-30-40 percent of them (only) were holding the sculpture together.”

Andrzej replaced all of the bolts and also waxed and restored the surface.

Todd Hearn, Graphic Design Manager at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is thrilled at the statue’s restoration.

“We wanted to bring back its original state. This is what it looked when Lorado Taft did it…it just had to be cleaned up.”

A side street in Forest Park is blocked off to make way for the Alma Mater's trip back to Champaign. (Credit: Terry Keshner)

A side street in Forest Park is blocked off to make way for the Alma Mater’s trip back to Champaign. (Credit: Terry Keshner)

The appearance of the huge, gorgeous sculpture turned heads on Troost Avenue in Forest Park where neighbors looked on as it was loaded onto a flatbed for its trip to Urbana-Champaign.

Darren Hammond lives right next to Andre’s studio, Conservation of Sculpture & Objects Studio, Inc, “I came outside, I was on my way to the laundromat, and I saw the statue and was like wow!”

Sheila Hannah had the same reaction. “I said what are all these cars out here and then I looked a little bit and said ‘Oh my God!'”

Darren Hammond added, “This really is amazing, this is a beautiful thing to see.”

University of Illinois Campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler told The News-Gazette in Champaign that the 85-year-old sculpture will begin its trip home from Chicago early on the morning of April 9 and be back in place on the corner of Wright and Green streets later that day.

The 10,000-pound bronze sculpture was created by artist Lorado Taft. Generations of students have had their photos taken with it.

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