C+S July 2021 Vol. 7 Issue 7 (web)

The Robert Goud Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial is located in America’s first public park: the Boston Common. The Memorial honors the first Black soldiers to fight for the North in the Civil War. Despite public opposition, members of the 54th Regiment performed heroic deeds at the Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina, inspiring over 200,000 Black soldiers to enlist in the Union cause. Among the heroes of the 54th Regiment were soldiers like Sergeant William H. Carney, who, despite being severely wounded, was able to save the Regiment’s flag at the Battle of Fort Wagner. This act earned Sergeant Carney the Medal of Honor, for which he was the first Black soldier to receive the honor. In their heroic efforts, Shaw and many of his men were killed in the assault of Fort Wagner. In an effort to honor the sacrifice of Shaw and his men, private donors raised funds for the creation of a memorial to be placed in the Com - mon. Notable artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens spent nearly 14 years modeling the faces of more than 40 men to create a high-relief bronze monument, which was unveiled to the public in 1897. In 2013, observations were made that several of the large stones at the front of the monument had shifted significantly. This led to prob - ing of the monument, which revealed that the brick core supporting the bronze relief had been deteriorated due to water infiltration and annual frost/thaw cycles. These investigations also revealed that there was significant corrosion on the steel beams that supported the plaza from below. In order to compensate for these issues, temporary work was done to stabilize the monument. This included actions like adding temporary supports below the plazas and limiting the flow of water by replacing defective sealants and mortar and covering some of the upward facing joints with lead flashing. While these short-term additions served to stabilize the Memorial, it was clear that it needed a complete restoration. In order to complete the necessary restoration, a partnership was formed between the Friends of the Public Garden, the City of Boston, the National Parks Service, and the Museum of African American History. Through the bidding process, this partnership tapped several firms to lead the project. Silman served as the prime consultant and structural engineers for the project, headed by Ben Rosenberg. Sculp - ture and Decorative Arts Conservation Services (SDACS), led by Bar - bara Mangum, served as the bronze conservator. In addition, Building and Monument Conservation, led by Ivan Myjer, served as the stone conservator for the project. Echem served as a design consultant for the project as cathodic pro- tection specialists. Additionally, AHA joined the group as electrical Restoring a Monument and Sparking Conversation By Luke Carothers

subconsultants, supporting the cathodic protection and lighting for the project. On the contracting side, Allegrone was tapped as the construc- tion manager. The teams tapped by the partnership had a tall task at hand. With more than 100 years of exposure to the elements and only period mainte- nance and repairs, the team set about assessing the greatest areas of need for the structure. The team referred to this as the “investigation phase”, and it included measures such as visual observations, mate- rial testing, and probes to remove some of the stones and determine the state of the substructure. Once these tests and observations were completed, it was clear there were a number of significant issues facing the structure. For the team, the question then became what not to do. Both kinds of stone, granite and marble, were experiencing significant deterioration as well as the bronze. There was also a need to address both the vertical support–which holds up the monument–and the hori- zontal support–which holds up the visiting area of the monument. To add to this, there was also the desire to prevent further deterioration on the site. The restoration project was determined by five scopes: stone, bronze, structural work, cathodic protection, and ancillary work. To begin restoring the monument, the team first focused on the bronze relief. Maintained by the Friends of the Public Garden since the



july 2021

Made with FlippingBook Annual report