November 20, 2008 in Voices

Monument to be fixed, moved

Tribute frequent target of vandals
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Vandals have chipped away at the inscription on the George Washington monument in Manito Park.
(Full-size photo)

A sandstone monument to George Washington – badly vandalized in recent years – is going to be renovated and moved to a new location in Manito Park as the result of a fundraising effort by the organization that originally placed the work in the park.

The Esther Reed Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution raised $1,500 and the Friends of Manito organization has agreed to donate up to $4,000 for the project to be completed by next spring.

Manito Park in recent years has seen a string of serious vandalism incidents, including defacement of the Washington monument, which was erected in 1932 by the DAR chapter.

Vandals in 2002 chipped away inset letters. The damage was so severe that it is now difficult to read the script that declares that the monument was placed in the park to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Washington’s birth.

Two bronze plaques were pried off and stolen. It was the second time that the Washington bust had been taken. The DAR chapter replaced the bust after an earlier theft.

The monument is isolated along a paved foot path running on the east side of the park between the lower Manito parking lot and East Manito Place. That path was formerly open to vehicles, parks officials said. At the time, the site was chosen because it was on a triangular piece of ground known as Washington Place.

Members of the DAR chapter this year donated to a fundraising campaign organized by Annie Pierce, Sue Cagle and Mary Gilmore.

“We almost feel a sense of duty to step up,” Pierce said. The monument itself is now a piece of Spokane history, and is important because Washington’s name was given to the state and because there are few historic monuments like it in Spokane, Pierce said.

“How much more important can you get?” she said.

The restoration plan calls for repairing the chipped letters and restoring the script along with etching a new bust and emblem on the upper portion of the column.

Steve Nittolo, supervisor at Manito Park, said he and another parks official have selected a new location for the monument just north of the Park Bench cafe on Tekoa Street.

Pierce said two companies – Five Star Concrete and Tresko Monument – have agreed to in-kind contributions to move and restore the monument. The job involves pouring a new 11-by-17-foot concrete pad to hold the column.

An unveiling is being planned for next spring.

At 8  ½-feet tall, the monument was the first one erected in Spokane to the nation’s first president, according to DAR minutes from 1932. It was accompanied by a drinking fountain, but that no longer works.

The monument is held on a base of white stone. Its top has a circle of 13 stars to signify the original colonies and states and 48 flute shapes for the number of states in the union at the time.

The front side had a bronze relief bust of Washington and the rear had a bronze DAR emblem.

The chapter’s minutes from 1932 described the monument as “an appropriate memorial legend … to the memory of the great patriot whose life is still an inspiration to all true Americans.”

Mike Prager can be reached at 459-5454 or by e-mail at mikep@spokesman.com

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