August 2017
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Spring Heralds Cleaning of Adopted Monuments

farragut statue monument restorationFollowing the tragedy of 9/11, the relevance of saving public statues seemed almost inconsequential in light of the impossibility of saving people’s lives. Then a photograph in The New York Times of a makeshift shrine at the statue of George Washington in Union Square revealed how much monuments function as a civic religion. An American flag had been placed in the mounted general’s hand, and antiwar slogans decorated the granite pedestal. Such monuments hold a reservoir of public memory, reminding us of the heroism and sacrifice of another era. In 2002, through a generous grant to the Adopt-A-Monument program from the Paul and Klara Porzelt Foundation, the MAS restored the Farragut Monument (1880) in Madison Square Park. The work by Augustus Saint-Gaudens — depicting Admiral David Glasgow Farragut in full regalia — had lost its original luster as well as its sword after years of neglect. Esteemed architect Stanford White designed the semi-circular granite exedra on which the monument stands. When temperatures topped 74 degrees in mid-March, the base of the Farragut Monument was bedecked with young people sunning themselves against the backdrop of the allegorical bas reliefs. As with the best of public art, monuments continue to infuse magic into public places. The Van Amerigan Foundation and the George Trescher Monuments Fund enable the Adopt program to preserve the legacy of our great public monuments by providing annual maintenance monies to clean and wax statues like the Farragut.