On Tuesday, Feb. 12, the board of supervisors heard the Women’s Club’s plans to clean the plaques on the Confederate statue on Prince Street in Tappahannock.
According to a presentation by Anita Harrower and Helen Ware, club representatives, they have currently raised approximately $9,800 in donations for the project.
The club estimated that cleanup costs will total $16,000, with a contingency of 15 percent to be added for cleaning not to exceed a final cost of $18,400.
Harrower said the Women’s Club chose to work with Andrew Backster of the Richmond-based company Bronze et al, Ltd. on the restoration. She added that Backster’s company performed work on monuments in Richmond and in other states.
“We believe that he is well qualified for the task,” said Harrower.
The Essex County Confederate Monument, which was dedicated on Aug. 25, 1909, contains the names of 772 officers and enlisted men from the county who served in the Civil War.
The copper plates displaying their names also indicate the company and regiment in which they served.
However, while the granite section of the monument has remained in good condition, the plates are now covered in layers of black and green corrosion caused by years of deterioration.
“It would be a shame to allow the deterioration to continue until the names of these valued soldiers are no longer readable,” said Harrower.
She added that the county now has a “beautiful war memorial” on the Courthouse Green in Tappahannock, but it honors the men from the county “who fought in every war except the Civil War.
“We do believe that it is imperative that the monument be restored because of its significance to the history of Essex County,” Harrower continued.
In addition to the plates, cleanup efforts will also target the two circular copper alloy reliefs placed above the names on the monument.
For their work on the statue, Bronze, et al, Ltd. plans to erect a system of scaffolding around the lower section in a plastic or tarp enclosure to protect surrounding areas from overspray.
Harmful corrosion layers will be removed from the plates and reliefs with glass beading. The cleaned sections will then be repatinated with the application of a lacquer coating followed by several layers of wax. Afterward, a finish will be added to the hardened wax.
“After going through all this trouble and expense, the Women’s Club has agreed to maintain the plaques by cleaning and waxing as needed,” Harrower said.
She added that the Women’s Club would like to have the work completed in April in order to have the statue ready for Tappahannock’s Memorial Day ceremony on the Courthouse Green.
“We would like to invite the county to help us with a donation, even it’s a small donation,” Harrower told the board.
The board agreed to add the Women’s Club’s request to the agenda for their next meeting on Tuesday, Mar. 12 at 7 p.m. in the county and school board office complex.