Saturday, October 30, 2010

History Shattered

(photo credit: abc2 news)
At around 2:30am this morning a van crashed into the decorative cast-iron fence that surrounds the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon. In one fell swoop a driver took out a large section of the 172  year old fence.

The monument was designed by Robert Mills and built between 1815 and 1829. The iron fence that surrounds the monument and forms the center of the Mt Vernon Place circle was installed in 1838. The four decorative gates in the fence are adorned with motifs of Roman fasces - a symbol of jurisdiction and unity - where not damaged.  In the early Republic, George Washington was compared to the Roman general and hero Cincinnatus who after defeating a threat to the Roman Republic resigned his position as Dictator, returned his fasces which were the symbol of his authority, and returned to his farm. Very much in the same way George Washington left the office of the President and retired to Mount Vernon. The fasces became, and remains a symbol in the United States (although mostly overshadowed by others) and Robert Mills added these to the design of the monument. Mills would go on later to design the more famous Washington Monument in D.C.

As of now there are no answers on how the fence will be replaced. Most likely a recreation of the missing section will have to be cast from surviving pieces or other intact parts of the fence. The cost of which has not been determined, nor the timeline. Until then a temporary chain-link fence covers the gap, and leaves the Monument scared. If there is any good news about this, the Washington Monument will be undergoing renovation in the near future to repair structural weaknesses in the observation deck. The fence repair could be added to this renovation.

There is no word on how the van lost control and slammed into the fence, but I think an appropriate fine would be to have the driver (or his insurance) cover the damages. One thing's for sure, our quintessential landmark may be irreplaceably marred. Only time will tell.

1 comment:

  1. I was in Baltimore this past weekend and I didn't come across your website first to see this story. However, I visited the Washington Monument and didn't notice a missing or damaged fence. I'm assuming they fixed it, although I don't know if you're able to tell.

    By the way, nice website. My wife and I will be moving there in May (from Richmond, VA), and we're looking forward to it. I'll be checking your site out fairly consistently now that I know it's here.