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Md. monument closed for repairs

June 21, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

It could be a year or more before patrons at Antietam National Battlefield will be able to walk under the bronze dome of the Maryland State Monument while park staff members coordinate a costly rehabilitation of the monument.

Last week, park employees discovered pieces of the 105-year-old monument's dome had begun falling onto the floor below, creating a hazard, said park superintendent John W. Howard. The monument was closed June 11.

"We hated to do it because people really enjoy the monument," Howard said.

Visitors to the park Friday said their experience had not been drastically altered.

Mark Mendelsohn, 16, said he had wandered onto the monument's platform until his parents asked him to get off. He said he wasn't worried "as long as it didn't fall on me."

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"That would have ruined it," said his father, Max Mendelsohn, 50, who with his family and a friend had visited from the Pittsburgh area.

Howard estimated it will cost about $200,000 to fix the monument, but he won't know until an architectural contractor finalizes a report. That may not be until September, and work likely would not begin until next spring.

Howard said the monument's rehabilitation cost is beyond the park's current budget capacity of $2.8 million, most of which covers employees' salaries. He said the money would likely come from the federal government and the battlefield's Adopt-A-Monument program, which provides donated money for maintenance.

Howard said the Maryland structure is the only walk-in monument among 104 monuments on the battlefield. He said it is also the only one dedicated to both Union and Confederate soldiers.

Most of the monuments were also paid for by veterans who fought in the battle at Antietam.

"They mean a great deal. It would be very similar to people who were at D-Day putting a memorial at Normandy," Howard said.

Max Mendelsohn had another suggestion to raise the money.

"They should have a big cannon (where) you put your change in," Mendelsohn said.

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