It took 4,600 pounds of mahogany to build the chair that became a singular landmark gracing Anacostia for 46 years before it rotted and was taken down.
Now it will take 1,300 pounds of aluminum to rebuild it.
Aluminum painted brown.
Purists might argue that the owner's vision of a metallic 19-1/2-foot-tall chair is like covering the Mall in Astroturf or resurfacing the Lincoln Memorial in Formica.
But the big chair's caretakers, who know what decades of rain, sleet and snow can do to wood, are interested in permanence, not having to put up with constant, niggling repairs.
"It will last a lifetime, and it will always look new and fresh, and it won't rust," said Lou Rizzo, president of Curtis Property Management Corp., owner of the big chair and the site where it has sat since 1959 at Martin Luther King Avenue and V Street SE.
The dismantling of the chair in August prompted a wave of nostalgia among residents and workers who regard it as Southeast Washington's own homespun attraction and a well-known geographic marker.
From the start, Curtis officials promised to bring the chair back, even putting up a sign on the pedestal where it stood that read, "I will return." They completed their plans this week, hiring an Anacostia-based welder and a Laurel engineer to make it happen, perhaps by Christmas.
Jimmie Benbow, 58, a street vendor who works across from the chair, said people in the neighborhood look forward to its return, no matter the material. "It's a landmark. They don't care what it's made of, they just want it back," he said.
His brother, James Benbow, 42, a D.C. Housing Authority police officer, stood a few feet away, shaking his head at the mention of aluminum. "It ain't gonna be the same; it's not the wooden big chair," he said. "It's not the original big chair; it's not what I grew up with. That chair was a sacred place."
Curtis Bros., a furniture company that had its headquarters at the location, put up the big chair -- modeled after a Duncan Phyfe dining room chair -- as a promotional ploy to attract customers. In 1960, the company hired model Lynn Arnold to live in a glass-enclosed apartment atop the chair, going out onto a balcony several times a day to wave to the crowds that came to gaze at her. She stuck it out for 42 days.
After Curtis Bros. closed in the 1970s, the Curtis family maintained offices at the site and kept the chair in place. In recent years, the chair's caretaker, John Kidwell, has bolstered the rotting wood with paint, cement and metal braces. Last May, he pronounced the patching of no use and advised Curtis Management officials to take the chair down before it collapsed.
Curtis has hired Delmus Nelson, a welder who works for the company, and Devery Lomax, an engineer who said he is not a stranger to designing oversize copies of ordinary objects, to remake the chair. Lomax's creations, he said, include a 40-foot-high model of a kaleidoscope for an entertainment company.
The aluminum will be laser cut to match the chair, which will have a cushion-like structure on its seat topped, perhaps, by canvas, Lomax said. The most time-consuming aspect of the project might be the painting, which he estimated could take as long as three weeks.
For its devotees, the chair's return won't be soon enough.
"People are always asking when is it coming back," said Cleonia Terry, 26, who was leaving her job as a social worker across the parking lot from the big chair's pedestal. "You just want to see it back where it belongs."