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Syracuse Sheet Metal Man is Statue of Liberty's tinsmith

"I'm the only person who has slept in the crown overnight," he said, "(she) moves a lot in the wind, which was unnerving, but not enough to make me seasick."

He admits it was odd to be working in her head, concentrating at the task at hand, he said he would forget where he was and then his eyes would change focus and he would be looking at Liberty's giant tablet outside the window.

That experience started a host of projects on the lady. He also is involved in the ongoing restoration of Ellis Island where he sometimes works late into the evening hoping to encounter some ghosts, but none have been forthcoming.

Being the resident tinsmith for the Statue of Liberty, he was asked by the superintendent to develop a show where he would demonstrate, in costume, how the statue was built. In the spring of 2005 he debuted How the Statue was Built, The Art of Repousse.

"For three years I performed Sheet Metal Theater," Heaphy said.

The Tipp Hill Heaphys

The first Heaphy, Thomas, landed in Syracuse 162 years ago and still to this day Heaphy claims, not a one has been in the social notebook. Thomas came because there was work in the salt industry and on the canal.

Growing up in the family business on Geddes Street, Heaphy learned the trades. His love of theater came from his mother's side. A beautiful woman, she had a beautiful voice, which could be heard Sundays at St. Patrick's on Tipp Hill. In 1955 she participated in her generation's American Idol, which was called, The Ted Mack Amateur Hour.

Dennis and his two sisters and two brothers went to St. Pat's (West Side Catholic). Heaphy started in his family's sheet metal shop at age 11. By age 15 he was a master of the trade, "I was raised in my own shop class," he said.

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