George Rogers Clark Memorial
Historic Structures Report
Historical Data
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Administrative Data--George Rogers Clark Memorial

A. Name and Number of Structure

The George Rogers Clark Memorial, Structure No. 1, Vincennes, Indiana. The memorial is classified as a AA Structure.

B. Proposed Use of Structure

The rotunda of the handsome memorial, containing the MacNeil statue of George Rogers Clark and the seven murals by Ezra Winter, is used by Service personnel to interpret the thrilling story of the "Winning of the Old Northwest by Clark and his Big Knives." In the basement are located the men's and women's restrooms, power room, furnace room, custodian's office, and storage facilities.

C. Justification for Such Use as Shown in the Master Plan

Until the Visitor Center is built, the rotunda of the memorial will continue to be used as an interpretive center. After the Visitor Center is erected and opened to the public, the rotunda will serve as a shrine.

D. Provision for Operating the Structure

The rotunda will continue to interpret the story of the winning of the "Old Northwest" by George Rogers Clark and his men, the Ordinance of 1787, the organization of territorial governments in this area, and the admission of these territories to the Union as co-equals with the original 13 states. Because of the unusual acoustics in the rotunda, visitors are provided with headsets with built-in transistors which enable them to listen to a recorded interpretive talk associated with each mural.

E. Cooperative Agreement, if any Executed or Proposed for Operating the Structure

Cooperative agreements will not be needed to operate this structure.

F. Brief Description of Proposed Construction Activity

There has been a history of serious water seepage through the terrace (promenade) of the memorial since it was completed in May 1933. No positive action has been taken to correct this situation, although the cause and remedy have been recognized since 1938-39. Attempts to stop this seepage in 1941, 1943-44, 1952, and 1958 have always been halfway measures and doomed to failure.

This water seepage into the structure for almost 40 years has presented the National Park Service with a critical situation which must be corrected to eliminate a serious safety hazard. Water has entered the electrical system causing many circuits to short out. Conduit is rusted through in many places. The main panel is streaked where water has passed through it. The basement floor is frequently wet, and water runs across it during and after every rain. An employee casually turning on a light could be electrocuted.

Both Bob Starrett of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Architectural Historian Henry Judd of the National Park Service question the wisdom of continuing the halfway measures of the past 30 years. A new waterproof membrane is required under the terrace. In addition, the steps and much of the granite on the approaches to the memorial need resetting and all need to be repointed. Expansion joints must be reworked and the asphalt paving on the terrace removed and the pebble-concrete re-exposed. Only after this is done, should the electrical system be replaced. Such positive action will be expensive.

The 20-year guarantee for the outer-roof has expired, and the built-up roof can be expected to give the Service problems in the not-too-distant future.

The heating system, along with the pump used to provide water for the Muellermist irrigation system, has given problems. As they have out-lived the period for which they were guaranteed, they should be scheduled for replacement.

Bob Starrett has sought, since 1946, to have the clear glass in the entrance to the memorial replaced with frosted glass. He believes that the morning sunlight coming through the clear glass has had an adverse effect on the Winter murals. The Service should make a study of this problem, and, if restorationists agree with Starrett, the clear glass must be replaced. The murals also need to be cleaned.

The base of, and paving around, the Francis Vigo statue needs resetting and the concrete seawall is spalling badly. With the exposure of the iron reinforcing rods the rate of spalling will accelerate. This situation will have to be corrected. [1]

G. Estimated Cost of Proposed Construction

Between $500,000 and $1,000,000.

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Last Updated: 17-Sep-2001