Sunday, May 10, 2009

Civil War Tablet Conservation and Installation

Article 18 J: Civil War Tablets--Phase I Conservation, Engineering & Design,
Installation and Interpretation: $ 65,000


Why are these so important?

These marble tablets, donated to the town by the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), the Union Army Veterans' organization
At the time of the donation in 1893, the Civil War was closer for citizens of that era than Vietnam is to us. The Civil War, fought to preserve the Union and end slavery, produced more casualties than any other conflict in American history, including the World Wars. This is Amherst's only public memorial to that costly and fateful conflict.

The six tablets list over 300 local residents who served, including 21 African-American soldiers who took part in the war for unity and freedom.

The tablets were originally displayed in Town Hall but were removed in the course of renovations and never reinstalled.

Returning them to Town Hall is an appropriate gesture of respect for the principles they represent, and thus a fitting commemorative project in this, our 250th anniversary year.

What does this money actually pay for?

The massive tablets need to be cleaned and repaired. Because they manage to be both large and fragile, careful engineering will be needed to develop a manner of presentation that avoids harm to both the tablets and the elements of the building within which they are installed. Professional conservators and engineers have calculated:
  1. Safely crate, transport, clean, and conserve 6 marble tablets: $ 25,000
  2. Structural engineering analysis of potential display locations in Town Hall: $ 10,000
  3. Research, design, and bid specifications for secure installation, including lighting, protection, and interpretation: $ 10,000
  4. Installation of at least two tablets, presumably in the foyer: $ 20,000.

We will seek to obtain the remaining funding through a combination of grants, donations, and possibly future CPA funding. It is, however, essential to complete this first phase now: Having the proper engineering and planning in hand will help the Town to make a case for grant funding. Having at least some of the tablets on display is the best way to inspire donors to help fund installation of the others.

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