Statues to be scaled down

March 06, 2000|By BRENDAN KIRBY

SHARPSBURG - An Anne Arundel County Civil War enthusiast has agreed to reduce the size of monuments he plans to erect on a piece of farmland he bought last year near Antietam National Battlefield.

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William F. Chaney, who rankled some preservationists and Sharpsburg residents with plans to erect towering statues of three Southern leaders, said in an interview Monday that he is working with Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John W. Howard on the appropriate size.

Chaney once envisioned a bronze statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee and a granite base to reach as high as 33 feet. But he said Monday that he will defer to Howard on the size of the base for the 11-foot statue.

Chaney said he also will work with Howard to find the best spot for the statue on the 101-acre property off Shepherdstown Pike.


"I'm easy to work with, to tell you the truth," he said.

Chaney said a sculptor has begun work on the Lee statue, which will take about two years to complete. After that, he said he will assess plans to follow that up with statues of J.E.B. Stuart and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Jan Wetterer, a member of the Antietam Battlefield Advisory Committee, told the Sharpsburg Town Council Monday that she hopes the final size will be about one-third of the original plan.

Town Council members renewed complaints Monday that Washington County officials did not inform them of Chaney's plans to turn an antebellum farmhouse on the property into a museum and gift shop until they already had been approved.

Councilman Ralph Hammond said the issue came up last month at a joint meeting between the Washington County Commissioners and elected officials from Sharpsburg and Keedysville.

"None of us was satisfied about the current level of notification," he said.

Wetterer said the Antietam Battlefield Advisory Committee has sent a letter to the commissioners asking for a better system of permits for historic properties.

Councilwoman Denise Troxell laid the blame on Washington County Permits and Inspections Director Paul Prodonovich and Planning Director Robert Arch.

"Mr. Prodonovich and Mr. Arch both knew this was going to be a hot issue and they never notified us," she said.

In an interview, Troxell objected to Chaney's application for a special exception to the county's zoning rules. The application reserves five of the house's seven rooms for a bookstore and gift shop, she said.

"It's really a large gift shop with a small museum," she said. "He says he wants to honor the Confederate boys. I think commercialism doesn't honor the dead. It profits off of them."

Chaney said the two largest rooms in the front of the farmhouse will be used for the museum. He estimated the museum would take up 60 percent to 70 percent of the space. He said he wants a low-key gift shop to help pay for the estimated $100,000 cost of renovating the decaying structure.

"It amazes me that the people of Sharpsburg would get upset at that," he said. "If I wouldn't have bought the building, it would have fallen down."

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