NEW ULM, Minn. (KMSP) - Nestled in the heart of the Minnesota River valley stands a monument like no other.
You may know it as “Hermann the German,” but what you may not know is it has a mystery 100 years in the making.
If you’ve never been to New Ulm, there are a few things you should know.
“Why did I move back to New Ulm? Simply because it’s the best place I have ever lived, that’s why,” said the city’s unofficial ambassador George Glotzbach. “New Ulm is one of the few towns in America where I can dress like this. [I can] walk up and down the streets in my lederhosen and nobody gives me a second look.”
New Ulm celebrates all things German. Last year the city was voted the second best Oktoberfest in the nation, Glotzbach said proudly.
“Hermann is sort of the George Washington of Germany,” Glotzbach explained. “To some degree or another Hermann is the guy who kept Germany…German.”
“Hermann the German” as he’s known, is a national monument with breathtaking 360 degree views. It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year.
For many, the statue is the face of the community. However, the statue that is more than a century old hasn’t aged all that well. Hermann is leaking and no one knows why.
"It could stop raining for weeks and be dry for weeks and we still have moisture concerns and moisture intrusion," said Tom Schmitz with the New Ulm Parks and Recreation Department.
"Everybody knows water leaks in on a roof are very difficult to find and they've been at it now for 100 years,” Glotzbach added.
"You can see moisture is coming down from the ceiling in that it's dripping down as you can see the floor has been discolored,” said Ellwood Zabel, the city’s building inspector.
The hardest hit area is the interpretive center at the base of the monument.
"As you can see now we've had rain over the last weekend so we have rains standing water in the cellar now,” Zabel said. “That's the first time I've ever seen that, I've heard that that's been water in there before."
The space is closed for the summer but the news isn't all bad. After 100-plus years there's finally hope for Hermann.
"I would say that for years we've been dreaming about restoring the monument and finally we're beginning phase one,” said Schmitz.
A grant from the historical society is funding a new study to finally get to the bottom, or top, of the leaks.
"So we don't know if it's groundwater that's coming up or if it's rainwater coming in that's what we're trying to determine,” Zabel said.
Until then, George likes to take little liberty with Hermann's story, "When I take people on tours and we see this and I always say well that's really... Hermann was a warrior really that's just his blood leaking from the tower."
The initial assessment will take months and then the goal is to secure more money for renovations and keep old Hermann stoic for generations to come.
"It's who we are,” Glotzbach said. “Hermann is the symbol of New Ulm."