Saturday, May 4, 2013

Group sounds bugle call to raise cash to restore Atlanta monuments by 150th

(Renderings courtesy of B*ATL)

A group wanting to make repairs to monuments to two Civil War generals killed in Atlanta now has plans to do the work and is making a fund-raising push in order to have the work done by the 150th anniversary next summer of the battle.

The monument study includes recommendations for several levels of restoration, but at this point we are committed to the whole deal,” said Henry Bryant, chairman of the Battle of Atlanta Commemoration Organization (B*ATL).

Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, a favorite of Union Gen. William T. Sherman, was killed when he rode into Confederate lines during the July 1864 Battle of Atlanta. Less than a mile away, Confederate Maj. Gen. William H.T. Walker was knocked out of his saddle by a sniper.

Monuments, each featuring a centerpiece cannon, went up years after the war.

Time and, in one case, traffic have taken a toll on the memorials. They sit on dislodged or structurally weak foundations. The cannons have water damage and are rusting in places.

The full cost of restoration, with new features, is about $190,000.

So far, B*ATL has received or has pledges for $50,000. The group also is applying for grants and contacting organizations for help. “Our own schedule calls for us to have a substantial amount raised by Thanksgiving of this year. At that point we must make the decision as to which (restoration) level because of landscaping planting considerations,” Bryant said.

“We hope that we do not have to scale back our plans, but if necessary we can do this,” Bryant told the Civil War Picket this week.

Stabilization of the monuments, which would cost in the tens of thousands of dollars, would not address underlying foundation problems at both sites. To really get to the base of the problem, the monuments must be disassembled.

“Proper coating of the metal and cleaning and sealing of the stones really also requires removal and drying,” said Bryant. “A more extreme level would be to execute the plans for the monuments but scale back the other features of the restoration from granite to concrete. As you can imagine, the granite is a major part of the estimated cost.”

A close look at the McPherson monument (above) in East Atlanta -- fittingly located on McPherson Avenue at Monument Avenue -- shows the foundation is in rough shape and mortar has disintegrated. It’s as if the pedestal and cannon are floating by their own determination, Bryant said.

The Walker monument to the east (right) is more easily seen, but doesn’t get the protection the McPherson monument receives.

It sits on a busy road (Glenwood Avenue at Wilkinson Drive) near Interstate 20.  Motorists have hit the marker several times, knocking it off-kilter on its pedestal. The red granite monument’s steps and plaque are gone. At least two feet of water and gunk are in the rusted cannon barrel.

B*ATL would like to move the monument to the center of a triangle and build steps to raise it, so it will match the appearance of the McPherson monument.

The Georgia Battlefields Association is donating $4,000 toward the restoration.

Donations for the restoration can be made out to BATL-Battle of Atlanta Comm. Org., Inc., with Monument Restoration in the memo box, and sent to BATL at 1340 Metropolitan Ave., Atlanta, Ga. 30316.

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