Sunday, September 3, 2023

Town outside Cleveland is moving forward with plans to replace Civil War monument smashed last year by tractor trailer

Shattered Sherman statue, including severed head, in storage (LaGrange Township)
Bright yellow poles – known as bollards – warn motorists in LaGrange, Ohio, to pay close attention as they approach the busy intersection of routes 301 and 303 (Main Street). They were put up after a series of crashes, including one that took out the downtown square’s Civil War monument in June 2022.

Residents are determined to replace the granite monument that was left in pieces, including the Union soldier’s severed head, when a truck barreled into it. Township officials want to use the same quarry that supplied the granite in the early 1900s.

“They want it restored to the original way,” says township administrator Vince Sigmund. “Everything was destroyed.”

Restoration won’t literally happen, because officials in this metro Cleveland and farm community determined that the damage to what locals call the Sherman monument was too severe for a repair.

Before and after the truck crash that took out monument, flagpole and more
“We have received three qualified bids to carve a new monument. Since the first monument was over 120 years old we cannot have the same company carve a new one,” LaGrange Township trustee Rita Canfield told the Picket in an email.

“We are not even certain who carved the original statue. … The cost of carving anew statue is simply shocking and we are insisting that the granite come from the same quarry that the first granite came from.”

Sigmund said the cost for a new monument and repairs for extensive damage to other parts of the square, including restoring lights that were taken out, could total $1.5 million.

Township officials are in active discussions with the insurance company for the trucking company involved in the accident and they expect a settlement.

Officials in LaGrange told the Picket that a big rig cruised through a stop sign at the circular intersection in the middle of the rural village on June 28, 2022. The stone memorial with a soldier on top was shattered and a flagpole was crushed.

An incident report from the Ohio State Highway Patrol said the driver told a responding officer that he fell asleep and ran a stop sign. The driver was not found to be impaired.

Canfield and fellow trustee Gary Burnett say the bollards at four spots on the traffic circle are meant to prevent accidents and protect the square.

As you might imagine, this has been a major challenge for our community and we hope to have started the monument and settled with the insurance company by September of this year,” says Canfield.

Officials said it could take up two years to have the statue carved and installed, along with other repairs. For now, the shattered pieces, which weigh hundreds of pounds each, are stored in a township building.

The Sherman statue was erected in 1903 (some sources say 1904) for about $3,000. The project was a joint project of LaGrange Village and LaGrange Township, a separate political entity.

The monument is owned by the township and literally is the focal point of the village -- where the two main roads meet

The monument base carried the names of LaGrange area residents who served during the war, the names of a few battles and of Union generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, Philip Sheridan and George Thomas.

“I personally would like to put it back up. It is part of our identity in LaGrange,” Burnett said last summer. “Everyone feels a little connection to it.” (Photo above, sent by Burnett, last summer, shows crews removing monument pieces.)

The Sherman statue suffered indignity 65 years ago, according to a Lorain County nostalgia blog. A newspaper article in November 1957 said pranksters tarred and feathered the base.

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