George Rogers Clark Memorial
Historic Structures Report
Historical Data
NPS Logo

A Construction History of the Memorial

A. The Commission Gets Organized

1. The First Meeting of the National Commission

The Federal Commission held its organizational meeting in the nation's capital on December 11, 1928, on call of Chairman Fess of Ohio. Before adjourning, the Commission determined to engage a consulting architect and to proceed with plans for an architectural competition for design of a memorial as contemplated by the Indiana law establishing the State Commission. A resolution was adopted calling on the Indiana legislature to continue the State levy for raising revenue with which to purchase the site. A second resolution was voted directing Chairman Fess to invite Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri to participate in the sesquicentennial and to contribute to the funds which had been appropriated by the United States, Indiana, Knox County, and Vincennes. [1]

The advisory architect was to be selected by the Executive Committee, after consulting the Federal Commission. He was to prepare a competitive program under which designs would be submitted by architects. The jury of award was to pay $25,000 to the architect whose design was selected.

Inasmuch as the Federal legislation prohibited expenditure of any of the $1,000,000 Congress had appropriated for the memorial until the design and plans had been approved by the Commission of Fine Arts, the National Commission asked the State group to advance the money required for the competition. The National Commission would reimburse the State Commission, after Federal funds became available. [2]

After approving the bylaws, the Commission determined that the Executive Committee of which Culbertson was chairman would be in charge of plans for the memorial, while Executive Secretary Coleman was to be paid $6,000 per year. The Commission also discussed the advisability of asking Congress to authorize the minting of a commemorative half-dollar. This subject was dropped when Representative Vestal reminded the group of Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon's opposition to this practice. Chairman Fess then adjourned the meeting. [3]

2. Initial Efforts to Secure Additional Funds Fail

In response to the call of the National Commission, legislation was introduced into the Indiana General Assembly, extending for another year the four-mill levy for purchase of land for the Clark Memorial. This measure, along with one legalizing the transfer of certain lands from the city of Vincennes to the State for addition to the memorial site, was passed. The revenue measure, however, was pocket-vetoed by Governor Harry G. Leslie. [4] Efforts to secure financial assistance from Virginia and Missouri, as well as states of the Old Northwest, were likewise unsuccessful. [5]

3. Parsons is Hired as Architectural Advisor

Dr. Coleman, as executive secretary, had contacted the Chicago architectural firm of Bennett, Parsons and Frost to ascertain if they would serve as advisors to the commission. William E. Parsons and C. W. Farrier of that firm were in Washington for the April 1929 meeting of the commission. At the request of Senator Fess, Parsons showed the group sketches he had prepared for the memorial grounds. His plan "included an ornamental and memorial treatment of . . . part of the proposed bridge over the Wabash River . . ., a monument to Francis Vigo, northwest of the bridgehead, and a memorial to Father Pierre Gibault adjacent to the memorial park."

The commission waxed enthusiastic over Parsons' drawings and words. When asked for an estimate of the cost of the work outlined, exclusive of the memorial, Parsons said $450,000. Chairman Charles Moore of the Fine Arts Commission, who was in attendance, liked Parsons' treatment of the memorial grounds.

Representative Vestal moved that the commission contract with Parsons to serve as their architectural advisor in the competition for design of the memorial structure. The commission at the same time would secure the services of Bennett, Parsons & Frost in planning and designing the grounds. Vestal's motion was seconded and adopted. [6]

B. The Competition

1. The Guidelines

At the meeting of the National Commission in Washington on June 20, Parsons discussed guidelines to govern the artists entering the competition. It was mandatory that the memorial be a building, and it should contain murals. and a portrait statue of Clark. Memorials to Francis Vigo and Oliver Pollock should be located near the approach to the bridge, while Father Gibault's was to face the Cathedral. "Portrait statues of Clark's other associates might be placed in the building or elsewhere on the grounds." The memorial was to be "located within the rectangle bounded by the boulevard along the river, Dubois Street, the church property and a line drawn from the rear of the church of Saint Francis Xavier to the river." [7]

Six nationally known architects were to be invited to enter the competition and to be paid $2,500, each, for participating. Other architects could enter at their own expense. The Jury of Award was to consist of five members, two of whom would be architects of established reputations. Their decision would be subject to approval by the national Commission of Fine Arts. [8]

Parsons notified the Executive Committee on July 10 that he would publish the announcement of the competition as soon as he could secure the approval of the American Institute of Architects. Copies of the program were to be forwarded by October l to each competitor who had signified an intention to enter by September 15. The deadline for the receipt of plans and designs would be January 10, 1930. [9]

A public announcement was made at the January 1930 meeting that the Jury of Award would meet in Vincennes the week of February 4 to select a design for the memorial. [10]

2. The Winning Design

The Jury of Award convened at Vincennes on February 3, 1930, at 2 p.m. Before studying the 51 designs submitted, the five-man jury reconnoitered the site and familiarized themselves with the immediate vicinity. They saw that the site was such that the structure could be "clearly seen from many points of view." On the 5th, after two days of study and discussions, the jury selected design no. 28. [11]

Frank Culbertson then traveled to Washington, where he submitted the winning design to the National Commission of Fine Arts on Monday, the 10th. They quickly gave their approval, and on February 14, Chairman Fess opened a sealed envelope, marked No. 28. It was found to contain the card of F. C. Hirons of Hirons & Mellor, Architects, 40 East 49th Street, New York City. It was then moved and seconded that Chairman Fess execute on behalf of the Commission a contract with Architect Hirons. [12]

It was understood, however, that the design would have to be scaled down if Congress refused to vote additional funds. Chairman Fess, as he studied a photograph of the proposed memorial, told the press, "I think it would be a shame to emasculate this plan. The extra money it would cost a great government . . . is nothing compared to what it would add in doing honor to a great man like George Rogers Clark." [13]

Commission members in attendance saw in the design "frontier staunchness in the Doric pillars free from the central circular structure which projects into an attic above the circular cornice which surmounts the pillars." In the center of the rotunda would be a heroic statue of Clark. One of the most praised features of the memorial were the miniature forts with cannon at the four diagonals, representing Forts Sackville, Kaskaskia, Harrod, and Cahokia. The interior of the structure would be enriched by murals depicting scenes from the winning of the Old Northwest. For its back drop, the memorial would have the century old St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, a river boulevard, a massive seawall, and a new interstate bridge spanning the Wabash. Memorial features were to be incorporated into the Indiana approach to the bridge. [14]

Frederick Hirons, the winning architect, had been born in Great Britain and had emigrated to the United States with his parents when ten years old. He had studied architecture in Boston and abroad. A master draftsman, he had won a number of prizes and specialized in classical designs for museums and bank buildings. He was active in the American Society of Beaux Arts, and in 1928 had won the competition for the headquarters building in New York City. [15]

C. W. E. Heath Gets the Contract

1. The Executive Committee Makes Decisions

While waiting to learn whether Congress would appropriate additional funds for the memorial structure, Architect Hirons drew up plans and specifications and contracted with a New York artist, Joseph Kiselewski, to build a model of the memorial. By March 1931 the model had been completed, and the Executive Committee met in New York City on March 20. After visiting Kiselewski's studio and inspecting the model, the Committee met with Hirons and several important decisions were made. It was determined to lower the height of the attic to about 14 feet from the edge of the cornice, and to add an inner rim about one foot in height, "making a step-in rim and making the total height of the attic approximately the same as originally shown in the model." [16]

Hirons now informed the group that William W. Reynolds of New York would be his project engineer and would examine the ground to stake the foundation. Clem Richards at this time raised the subject of providing in the basement of the structure rooms for the custodian, storage, and semi-public restrooms. The entrance to the basement was to be "in or near one of the pylons at the bottom of the steps" in front of the structure. The custodian's room, as well as the rotunda, was to be heated by gas or electricity. Hirons was agreeable. [17]

Advertisements inviting bids for construction of the memorial were to appear on April 13, and the proposals were to be opened four weeks later. [18]

2. The Plans & Specifications are Released

Architect Hirons showed to the National Commission at its April 15 meeting plans and specifications for the memorial. They were favorably received. It was announced that sealed bids for construction would be opened in the office of the Commission in the Capitol at Indianapolis on May 9. [19]

The opening of the proposals had to be postponed, because a close examination of plans and specifications by personnel of Bennett, Parsons & Frost turned up a number of inconsistencies. A list of suggested modifications was forwarded on May 14 to Engineer Reynolds. Upon being notified that agreed-upon changes had been incorporated in the plans and specifications, it was determined to release them for bid. [20]

Even before July 9, the day the bids were now scheduled to be opened, there were protests to the Executive Committee about one of the specifications. This was to have serious implications. Fred E. Schortemeir of the Indiana Limestone Company protested against the exclusion of Indiana limestone from the memorial. It was pointed out by Culbertson to Schortemeir and United States Representative Wood, who had also written that the plans and specifications as drafted would "practically exclude Indiana limestone," that they were mistaken. They were shown that the specifications permitted bidding on Indiana limestone and marble on "two-thirds of the volume of the total aggregate stone." [21]

3. The Bids are Opened

The Indiana limestone industry and their powerful supporters were not satisfied by this explanation, but they determined to hold their fire until the contract was awarded. Because of the depression, interest among contractors in the project was keen. Proposals from 16 firms were received, and the chamber of the Indiana House of Representatives was nearly filled on July 9 with interested persons as Culbertson read the bids submitted by 17 contractors. They, in accordance with instructions, had bid on several base materials, and offered additions and deductions from the base bids by use of "Indiana Limestone, marble and granites as alternates in interior construction and other sections of the memorial."

Hegeman-Harris Co. of Chicago was found to have submitted a low bid of $848,500 for constructing the memorial of Mount Airy granite, the material specified as the base for fixing proposals. W. E. Heath Construction Co. of Greencastle, Indiana, had submitted a lower proposal of $830,000 for Stanstead granite, the second base material. [22]

4. The Contract is Awarded

The National Commission met at French Lick, Indiana, on Monday, July 13, 1931, to determine to whom to award the contract. Battle lines were drawn between Indiana limestone supporters and those who favored Mount Airy or Stanstead granite. Senator Watson and Indiana Congressmen Wood and Vestal argued that besides being cheaper, Indiana limestone would pump money into the State economy. Schortemeir, the lawyer for the limestone interests, threatened to appeal to Secretary of the Treasury Mellon, if it were true that specifications only called for limestone in the interior. Those supporting granite pointed out that it was a national memorial and that granite was not subject to weathering. Culbertson, the power on the Executive Committee, spoke out for the use of Indiana limestone for the interior of the structure and granite for the exterior. Mayor Joseph W. Kimmel of Vincennes pointed out that his city and Knox County had "contributed directly $250, 000 over and above our proportionate part" of the State's contribution, and urged that the project "not be commercialized in any degree." [23]

After arguments were heard, the Executive Committee presented to the Commission three proposals: W. E. Heath's of $773,800 for Stanstead granite for the exterior of the Memorial and Indiana limestone for the interior above the wainscotting; Hegeman-Harris' for $823,000, limestone interior and Mount Airy granite exterior; and A. E. Kemmer's of $627,000 for granite base and limestone superstructure and interior. By a vote of nine to six, the Commission determined to contract with Heath Construction Co. [24]

When the contract was signed, it was provided that Stanstead granite be used for the entrance, steps and terrace, columns, parapet and main wall above the band course, and architrave of main entrance. Indiana limestone was to be used for pilasters, capitals, cornices, and ceilings of the interior. Materials as specified in the base bid were to be used in other parts of the structure. [25]

Walter R. Heath, the successful bidder, was well known to Vincennes builders. He had assumed the contract for remodeling the Knox County Courthouse on the death of John A. Keller, and had erected the Sullivan County Courthouse at Sullivan, as well as a number of fraternity and sorority houses at DePauw university. [26]

5. Protests Cause an Investigation

Several unsuccessful contractors contacted officials of the U.S. Labor Department, and it was learned that the Stanstead Co., which was to supply the granite, was a Canadian corporation. Upon release of this information, the Premier Company of Vincennes and Indianapolis wired Senator Fess, "Your records show our firm is low bidder for Woodbury granite and therefore is entitled to the contract." A. E. Kremmer's message to Fess read, "I direct your attention to my status as low bidder for American materials." Senator Watson called on Fess to call a meeting of the Commission to reconsider the contract as Stanstead granite is Canadian. [27]

Senator Fess was understandably distressed by the barrage of telegrams. He told the press that if the Stanstead firm quarried its granite in Canada and shipped on Canadian railroads the contract would be voided. But, he added, the shrine would be built of granite. [28] Before calling a meeting of the commission, Senator Fess sent a two-man team, Richards and Smith, to visit the worksheds of the Woodbury Granite Co. at Hardwick and Woodbury, Vermont.

Richards and Smith found that on June 12, 1931, the Woodbury Co. had leased to the Stanstead Granite Quarries a large quarry at Woodbury. When they called at the quarry, they found sufficient granite "proven and channeled to more than fill the requirement of the Memorial within the time specified in the contract." They learned that an agreement had been effected between the Woodbury Co. and the Stanstead Co. to do one-half the cutting, dressing, and finishing in the Hardwick plant and the remainder by the Stanstead people at the Beebe Plain plant. All work was programmed to be done by United States labor, and the laborers were to receive the same wage scale as paid by other stone companies. All finished stone shipped from Hardwick was to move over railroads entirely within the United States,while unfinished granite shipped from Woodbury to Beebe Plain would pass over about 8,000 feet of track north of the international boundary. The Stanstead plant was on the boundary, but it was a corporation organized under the laws of Vermont. [29]

6. The Commission Reaffirms the Contract

Senator Warren Austin of Vermont appeared before the September 28 meeting of the Commission, along with Richards and Smith. He corroborated their statements that the subject building material was "Vermont granite and according to all rules and practices in the granite business, was in full compliance with the label of the sample submitted." [30]

Five hours of acrimonious arguments ensued before a vote was taken. On one occasion Congressman Wood became so agitated that he exploded, "this business will be aired in Congress, and if it is, I fear for the memorial." Wood charged fraud on grounds that a sample of granite chosen for fulfillment of the contract came from a Canadian quarry, while Commission members believed they were voting for American granite. S.C. Kivett, an attorney for Heath Construction, testified that the controversy was "in the interest of the Indiana Limestone Co., the most pampered child of industry in Indiana." Shaking his finger at Senator Watson and Representative Wood, Kivett added, "but you've served this child of ours." Senator Watson called for a vote on voiding the contract with W. E. Heath. His motion was defeated nine to six. [31]

D. W. R. Heath Builds a Memorial

1. The Basement is Excavated and Foundation Poured

The contract having been reaffirmed, W. R. Heath workmen pushed ahead with construction. On August 29, one month before the crucial vote, a crew of surveyors had established the axis lines for the memorial. Stakes were driven, marking the dimensions of the huge structure. Ground was broken on Tuesday, September 1, when a number of city officials and businessmen assembled to watch as Frank Culbertson turned the first shovel of earth. Project Superintendent James Kay then gave the word, and several powerful steam shovels moved in and began excavating for the memorial foundation. The main excavation was completed in eight days, and on September 11, carpenters were turned to building forms for footings. Meanwhile, the asphalt streets in the vicinity were torn up.

Kay moved slowly, because it would be "poor policy" in view of the controversy to bring in more heavy equipment. Speaking with the editor of the Sun-Commercial, Kay expressed regret that "the controversy has slowed down work at a period of the year when weather conditions have been most ideal." Work would be carried on during the cold months, but, he added, "the same degree of headway cannot be made in cold winter weather as at this time of the year." [32]

As soon as he was notified that the contract had been confirmed, Superintendent Kay pushed the carpenters, and by October 9 the forms had been completed. The pouring of concrete for the footings started. Into the concrete went "many momentoes, including small coins." Large crowds of sidewalk superintendents were attracted to the site to watch "one of the largest pours of concrete ever made in the area." [33]

As soon as the forms were removed, new ones were built to mould the large concrete piers. These piers, square in shape, were positioned in circles and were designed to support the tremendous weight of the memorial structure. After the concrete had been poured and set, the lumber was removed, salvaged, and workmen turned to erecting forms for the flooring and support beams. [34]

2. Last-Minute Changes

While awaiting the first shipment of granite, the Executive Committee and Architect Hirons met and agreed on some last-minute changes in plans and specifications for the structure. upon Hirons' recommendation, it was determined to substitute North Star Indian Red Granite from St. Cloud, Minnesota, for the Jonesboro Red Granite in the band course above the dark greenwainscot. [35]

A modification of the "inner side of the entrance around the door" was approved. The bronze entrance and its mountings were to be dropped, because the work by its "nature required not only detail study and collaboration but also unusual artistic skill and rare craftsmanship in both design and execution." In its place would be constructed a bronze entrance, window, and vestibule. Bids for this work would be solicited from six bronze companies. [36]

The construction of the dome was discussed. Hirons explained that the plans and specifications called for an air space between the limestone dome and the supporting reinforced concrete dome above it. His consulting engineer, however, preferred pouring the concrete directly on top of the limestone, after it had been waterproofed. It was determined that the inner dome would be constructed by first placing the limestone, then positioning a waterproof membrane, and finally pouring the concrete. [37]

The Executive Committee asked Hirons to make a study of the interior of the memorial above the entrance to incorporate a panel depicting an additional scene from Clark's career. Hirons did. He came up with a drawing providing for a bas-relief above the door and eliminating certain carving along the inner side of the door frame. The committee gave its enthusiastic endorsement. [38]

Joseph Kiselewski, who had prepared the model of the memorial, was given the contract for the bas-relief. The scene representing Clark receiving his commission as lieutenant colonel and his orders from Governor Patrick Henry of Virginia was executed in marble.

3. The Erection of the Superstructure

In the first week of December 1931, the pouring of concrete for the memorial floors started, while another crew assembled the derrick to be used in hoisting and placing the granite. The derrick would be operated on a circular track laid around the memorial base. [39]

The first shipment of granite was received from Stanstead on December 22, 1931. On Monday, January 4, 1932, Culbertson visited the site and with trowel and mortar "set the first piece of granite in construction of the memorial." There were no speeches and few spectators. Shortly thereafter, at 10:30 a.m., five slabs of granite colonnade flooring were laid. This was followed by the laying of the first brick on January 13. The first stone for the circular wall was set on January 18. To enable sidewalk superintendents to see how work was progressing, and to keep them at a safe distance, a four-foot woven wire fence was erected around the construction site.

Despite cold winds out of the northwest, workers continued setting the massive slabs of circular granite, and the walls of the structure began to take shape. On February 6 the masons finished setting the green wainscot. The grey granite walls then climbed upward. [40]

Following the quarterly meeting of the National Commission in the last week of April, Architect Hirons traveled to Vincennes. He visited the site and found that W. R. Heath workmen had taken advantage of an unusually mild winter to forge rapidly ahead. "The memorial is going to be more magnificent than even the architect's mind could vision in preparing the plans," he told the press. Hirons blamed a recent slow down caused by a shortage of stone on good weather, which had enabled the contractor to get ahead of schedule, rather than delays on the part of Stanstead in preparing and shipping granite. [41]

It was June 2 before the 148th and last drum for the 16 massive granite columns was unloaded in Vincennes. With this shipment came one of the "artistically carved caps." The rest were scheduled to arrive on or before June 15. Because of their massive size and skill required in milling, an entire day was needed to turn out a single drum. [42]

Timbers to reinforce the ceiling of the memorial dome were placed at the same time, amid construction programmed to get under way during the second week of June. The first Bedford limestone in the dome was set June 7, simultaneously with the arrival of three more caps from Vermont. [43]

On August 17, laborers began pouring concrete for the dome. By the last week of the month, bricklayers had carried the brickwork to the top of the memorial, which was followed by the placing of several more courses of granite. These were raised to a height to hide the dome construction from the outside. A crew of structural steel workers was brought in to position and rivet the massive steel framework for the skylight in the dome. [44]

Work on the memorial superstructure was completed on the evening of October 3, when the last stone was set. The derrick and its circular track were removed. The next project to be undertaken would be the laying of the terraces. [45]

4. The Laying of the Terrace and Steps

On October 12, Columbus Day, workmen began excavating for the terrace and steps to encircle the structure. Taking advantage of a long Indian summer, Superintendent Kay by early November had his men pouring concrete for footings for the supports of the terrace walls, curbing, and steps. [46]

Work was pushed, and on January 16, 1933, the first granite for the octagonal base wall was positioned. The last granite was placed on April 25, and a crew turned to placing the terrace walkway around the memorial structure. This walkway consisted of concrete, filled with large pebbles shipped in from the coast. [47]

5. Lesser Projects

a. Additional Band of Alabama Granite

In December 1932 it was determined to put an additional band of granite around the parapet at the top of the memorial at an additional cost to the commission of $3,349. Hirons and Parsons traveled to Alabama to personally select the stone. [48]

b. The Basement Rooms

Chairman Culbertson of the Executive Committee had been an interested observer as the massive foundations of the memorial took form. As the basement took shape at the end of November 1931, he recalled the Magonigle plan and its "Hall of History." He felt that the huge space under the memorial could be utilized as an impressive Hall of Pioneers.

Dr. Coleman, Burns, and Richards agreed, and Culbertson asked Hirons to "consider the matter of utilizing the basement space." Present plans for the memorial provided for leaving the basement unfinished, to serve as an air chamber. Many local people had questioned the failure to provide for some use for this space, and several had suggested it would make an excellent room in which to exhibit artifacts associated with early history of the area. Culbertson, however, disagreed with those favoring a museum, and argued that if it were determined to expend money on finishing the basement, it should become "a permanent part of the memorial, depicting with its statues and tablets important historical events in connection with the conquest of the Northwest Territory." [49]

When Hirons studied the basement, he reported that it would cost 20 to 30 per cent less to convert it into a Hall of Pioneers now than to wait until after the structure was completed. To do so, he recommended that the interior of the basement be finished in marble or granite, and ornamented. Influenced by Culbertson, he argued that the hall "would not be for the collection of historic relics, but rather for the portrayal of the life of the early pioneers" through the use of tablets and statues. [50]

A failure to get Congress to appropriate additional funds at this time compelled the commission to drop Culbertson's proposal for the Hall of Pioneers. The contractor accordingly completed the basement rooms as planned, the restrooms fixtures and marblework being installed in March 1933. In 1966 at the time Congress established the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, Park Service planners revived and then dropped a plan to convert the huge space in the basement under the rotunda into a visitor center.

c. The Bronze Entrance Way

In February 1933 metal workers positioned the bronze entrance way. [51]

d. The Bronze and Art Glass Skylight

On the evening of May 26, 1933, after the completion of the structure proper, the Executive Committee met to discuss a contract for installation of the "bronze and art glass skylight in the inner ceiling of the memorial." [52] Plans and specifications were approved and proposals invited.

Bids for the bronze and glass ceiling sash for the memorial were examined by the commission on July 13. The bid of General Bronze Corporation of Long Island City, New York, "to furnish and install the art bronze and art glass ceiling sash" for $13,390 was accepted. [53] The contractor by early autumn had completed this project, and plans were made for placing the murals and Clark statue.

E. The Inscriptions

1. For the Memorial Structure and Pylons

The Subcommittee on Inscriptions in December 1931 recommended to the Executive Committee that: (a) the large exterior inscription on the entablature under the cornice give the designation of the memorial and tell what it commemorated; (b) the interior inscriptions on the entablature above the murals "give effective quotations . . . embodying patriotic or heroic sentiments"; (c) the two pylons in front carry inscriptions on their front, one referring to the site and the event, and the other referring to the erection of the memorial and giving the date or dates; and (d) the pylon on the right, as one approaches the memorial, give reference to the erection of the memorial and be considered the cornerstone. Suggested texts were disussed, and referred back to the subcommittee. [54]

On February 26, 1932, the Subcommittee on Inscriptions reported that it had agreed on the text of the inscriptions for the pylons and for the interior above the mural paintings. No agreement had yet been reached on the inscription for the entablature around the structure's exterior.

The inscription on the left pylon was to read, "Erected by the United States on land provided by the State of Indiana, the County of Knox, the City of Vincennes, MCMXXXI." On the other pylon would be inscribed, "The Site of Fort Sackville captured from the British by George Rogers Clark, February Twenty-fifth, MDCCLXXIX." The interior inscription was to read, "Great Things have been effected by a few men well conducted. Our cause is just. Our country will be grateful." The first sentence was to be centered over the mural of the Fort Sackville surrender. [55]

The Executive Committee at its March 12 meeting determined to amend the inscription on the right pylon to insert the phrase ". . . and his Heroic Comrades" after the words "by George Rogers Clark." On the exterior of the entablature it was determined to inscribe, "The Conquest of the West" over the entrance, and "George Rogers Clark and the Frontiersmen of the American Revolution" around the sides and rear. [56]

2. Inscriptions for the Bridge Approach

On May 17, 1932, the Executive Committee listened to the report by the subcommittee on the bridge approach inscriptions. It was approved and forwarded to Architect Parsons, subject to such revisions as he might find desirable in the arrangement and spacing of the text. [57]

F. The Executive Committee Accepts the Memorial Structure

W. R. Heath notified the Commission on May 26, 1933, that his firm had completed the memorial structure. Architect Hirons' inspection showed only one or two minor items needing correction, and the Executive Committee voted to accept the building. (For a description of the structure as completed, see Appendix A.)

The Executive Committee, in the opinion of the author, blundered in its precipitant acceptance of the structure. Within weeks, as the readers will discover, serious leakage into the basement was reported. Numerous attempts have been made through the years to stop the seepage, but they have all failed. It can be assumed that the waterproof membrane designed to prevent this leakage was either defective or fractured immediately. In view of this situation, questions are raised regarding other actions of the Executive Committee. There was the decision to use Stanstead granite rather than Mount Airy granite. The former, as previously pointed out, is not a first-class building stone. After the contract was signed with W. R. Heath, and questions were raised regarding whether the Stanstead Company was domiciled in Canada or the United States; the whereabouts of its quarries; and the origin of stone samples shown the full Commission, the Culbertson-dominated Executive Committee forced the issue and the contract was reaffirmed. As will be seen in the section of this study dealing with maintenance of the structure, W. R. Heath Company not only failed to stop the seepage, but, three years after the building had been accepted, subcontractors were dunning the Commission to reimburse them for bills owed to them by the prime contractor. [58]

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 17-Sep-2001