(Photo taken before monument dismantled for
- The following article appeared in the July 10-16, 1998
issue of the Savannah Georgia Guardian and is reprinted
Pulaski Problems Persist: Monument
Preservation Effort Requires More Money, New Statue
by Margarita Venegas
For some Monterey Square residents it's hard
to remember what the Pulaski Monument that stood just outside
their front doors looks like, much less the anticipation and excitement
they had upon learning it would be restored.
About 10 Savannah residents showed up for a
meeting July 7 presented by Dr. Don Gardner, director of the city's
park and tree department, that explained the history of damage
to the monument, how far along the project was and future plans
for Pulaski and other local monuments.
"The Pulaski Monument was one of four
monuments we identified when looking at the conservation of those
with the most severe problems out of the 43 the city has,"
The first monument the department looked at,
the sphere in Troup Square, was restored with few problems. The
second, the Beacon Range in Morrell Park received one-half of
the funds needed for restoration from the city, but the project
cannot begin until the CSX Corp. gives the department the other
half of the funds, which it has already pledged to do.
When reviewing the deterioration on the Pulaski
Monument, Gardner's staff noticed numerous cracks in the surface,
but could not make a full assessment of the cost until it was
brought down and looked at piece by piece. The original estimate
was just under $200,000, and since the city had already given
that amount for the Beacon Range, Gardner borrowed the money with
the purpose of replacing it once the Pulaski restoration was finished.
However, no one counted on the damage that
was to be found, damage so great that the statue of Lady Liberty
that sits atop the monument and the ornate capital just under
her feet will have to be replaced with replicas. The originals
will remain in the Savannah History Museum, Gardner said.
"Over a three-year period, about 70 pounds
of marble were lost from the top of the monument because when
the capital was carved the sculptors had to exaggerate the leaves
and scrolls in order for the work to still have an impact and
be seen from the ground level," Gardner said. "This
made it very delicate. The problem is they pushed the stone further
than it could take."
Not only will creating a replacement statue
take more money than originally planned, but once Gardner and
his staff began to take the monument down, the cost of restoration
rose considerably. There were five issues that they had to deal
with in taking it apart, which will also affect how it is pieced
The first issue the department faced was that
the Carrara marble that the monument was made of was not the finest
quality, therefore it had both coarse and fine grains, which meant
pollution, rain and other elements could easily lodge in the stone
The stone was also stressed because when it
was carved with a hammer the shock vibrations weakened it as time
passed and some of the blocks were at angles, which defied their
normal bedding plane. This meant, for example, that a stone with
a horizontal structure might have been placed vertical, leading
to unnatural weight distribution and fissures when another stone
was placed on top.
Perhaps the most disturbing revelation was
when the department found that the column blocks and the foundation
of the monument were not solid in the middle, so as to distribute
weight evenly, but hollow and precariously perched.
"This was stacked like a house of cards,"
Gardner said. If the monument had been left standing, it would
have eventually fallen as the elements continued to deteriorate
the condition. Currently, the monument and the original iron fence
surrounding it are being repaired at the Roundhouse and a private
studio, but about $500,000 more is needed to complete the project
and return money to the Beacon Range fund.
Monterey Square residents at the meeting announced
they hope to present this issue to the Savannah City Council July
16 in an attempt to receive city funds. Tepid public and political
support has meant that funding the Pulaski restoration has fallen
low on the list of city priorities, however residents believe
some money should be taken from tourism profits to repair the
monument since one of the attractions for tourists is the historic
Even if the money to finish the project was
available within the month, it would take until March 1998 to
complete restoration, Gardner said. However, once the project
is finished, he hopes the city will be able to make better plans
for future restoration. "We are trying to set up an endowment
fund to take care of future expenses," Gardner said.
Erection of the Pulaski Monument
The cornerstone of the Pulaski Monument was
placed in ceremonies on the afternoon of Oct. 11, 1853. Present
for the occasion were Savannah militia units, local Masonic lodges,
and a large number of citizens. Henry Williams delivered the main
address, after which William Bowen read the following tribute
"This parchment is to record the laying
of the corner-stone of a Monument in the centre of Monterey Square,
at the junction of Bull and Wayne streets, (City of Savannah)
to the memory of Brigadier-General County Pulaski, who fell mortally
wounded by a swivel shot while on a charge at the head of a body
of cavalry before the British lines, at the Siege of Savannah,
on the ninth day of October, seventeen hundred and seventy-nine.
"Count Casimir Pulaski was born in the
province of Lithuania, Poland, in the year seventeen hundred
and forty-six. Arrived in the United States in the year seventeen
hundred and seventy-seven (1777), and volunteered his service
to the American Government in the great and glorious cause of
Liberty and Freedom from British tyranny -- received a commission
from the Government as Brigadier-General of Cavalry, and fought
gallantly in the battles of this country at Brandwine, Germantown,
Trenton, Charleston, and Savannah. Aged 33.
"Robert E. Launitz, of New-York, Designer.
M. Lufburrow and E. Jones, builders of the foundation.
"Robert D. Walker, sculptor of the corner-stone.
"Richard D. Arnold, Chairman of Commissioners.
"Wm. Robertsons, by Geo. Robertson, Jun.,
"Wm. P. Bowen, Sen., Secretary and
Savannah citizens contributed a number of
items to be placed in a copper box placed in the corner stone.
Although no date for the box's opening was set, this may have
been the first time capsule in Georgia history. According to
historian George White, the contents of the copper box consisted
"Roll of the officers of the Independent
Volunteer Battalion of Savannah, together with rolls of the several
volunteer corps composing said battalion.
"Statement of the Marine and Fire Insurance
Bank. Last report and list of stockholders, together with notes
of the denominations one, two, five, ten, twenty, fifty, and
"Statement of the Bank of the State of
Georgia, with notes of five and ten dollars.
"Bills of the Planters' Bank, of the
denominations of five and ten.
"Bills of the Central Railroad and Banking
Company, of the denominations of one, two, five, and ten.
"Statement of the Bank of Savannah, also
notes of the denominations of five, ten, twenty, fifty, and one
"Names of the Officers of the Governments
of the United States and of the State of Georgia.
"Engraved likenesses of Generals George
Washington, Benjamin Lincoln, and of Robert Morris, Esq.; presented
by I.K. Tefft.
"Medal representing a view of the city
of Bremen, with a statue of Rolandi, dated 1540; also, medallions
of Benjamin Franklin and Henry Clay; presented by A. Oemler.
"Medallion representing the Crystal Palace
of New-York; presented by W.A. Richmond.
"Hungarian Bond; presented by Hinko Naklen
"A piece of the oak tree from Sunbury,
Liberty County, Georgia, under which General James Oglethorpe
opened the first Lodge of Free Masons in Georgia; also under
which, in 1779, the charter of the Union Society was preserved,
and Mr. Mordecai Sheftall, Sen., then a prisoner of war, elected
President; presented by Mrs. Perla Sheftall Solomons.
"Copies of the Savannah Republican,
of October 1, 1853, giving an account of the exhumation of the
corner-stone laid by General La Fayette in 1825; also of the
11th of October, 1853.
"Copies of the Savannah Daily Morning
News, of the 4th, 6th, and 11th of October, 1853.
"Copies of the Savannah Georgian,
established in 1817.
"Past Master's Masonic Jewel, dated 1710;
presented by S.P. Bell, Esq.
"A silver dollar, found among the bones
of soldiers who fell at the siege of Savannah, dated 1778; presented
by Barnard Constantine, Esq.
"A badge, medals, and copper coin; presented
by Mrs. David Thompson.
"Two Roman coins of the days of Constantine,
Emperor of Rome; presented by Benjamin Arnold.
"Gold, silver, and copper coin; presented
by A. Oemler, N. Wolf, J.N. Prentiss, C.F. Preston, P.G. Thomas,
R.W. Pooler, T. Holcombe and F.J. Rosenberg.
"Three German coins, dated 1623, 1624,
and 1632, presented by Paul Haller.
"French Masonic Lodge Jewel; presented
by William Hone.
"A silver dollar, dated 1727; presented
by A. Bonand.
"One cent, dated 1793; presented by J.H.
"Two silver medals; presented by John
J.W. Buntz and George J. J. Buntz.
"Continental notes, by Mrs. David Thompson;
and rare coin, by R.R. Scott, Esq.
"Directory and Census of the City of
Savannah for the year 1853; presented by David H. Galloway, Esq.
"Officers and assistants of the Savannah
"Constitution, by-laws, list of officers
and members of Zerubbabel Lodge, No. 15.
"Records of the Georgia Chapter, No.
"Records of Clinton Lodge, No. 54 --
list of officers and members; and a silver compass.
"Records of Solomon's Lodge for the year
1853, with by-laws, &c."
Letter by Pulaski Monument Designer
Robert Launitz, designer of the Pulaski Monument,
provided details of the monument in a letter to the Pulaski Monument
"Gentlemen: -- I herewith have the honour
to submit, according to your proposals, a design for a monument
to the memory of Count Pulaski, consisting of an elevation and
perspective view. In designing the Monument, I have had particular
regard to purity of style, richness of effect, and strength and
durability in material and execution; while I have not lost sight
of the main object, which is to design a Monument for Pulaski.
"It is perceived at the first glance
that the monument is intended for a soldier, who is losing
his life fighting. Wounded, he falls from his horse, while still
grasping his sword. The date of the event is recorded above the
subject. The coat of arms of Poland and Georgia, surrounded by
branches of laurel, ornament the cornice of two sides, or fronts;
they stand united together; while the eagle, emblem of liberty,
independence, and courage, rests on both, bidding proud defiance
-- the eagle being the symbolic bird of both Poland and America.
The allegory will need no further explanation. The cannon reversed
on the corners of the die, are emblematical of military loss
and mourning, while they give the monument a strong military
"To facilitate the execution of the shaft,
which it would be impossible to execute in one piece, I have
divided the same into several parts, separated by bands, so as
to remove the unsightliness of horizontal joints on a plain surface.
The bands are alternately ornamental with stars, emblems of the
States and Territories, now and in embryo, which enjoy and will
enjoy the fruits of the valor and patriotism of the heroes of
the Revolution. The garlands on the alternate bands above the
stars denote that they (the States) are young and flourishing.
The shaft is surmounted by a highly elaborate cap, which adds
richness, loftiness, and grandeur to the structure. The monument
is surmounted by a state of Liberty, holding the banner
of the 'stars and stripes.' The love of liberty brought Pulaski
to America; for love of liberty, he fought; and for liberty he
lost his life; -- and thus I thought that Liberty should crown
his monument, and share with him the crown of victory. The garlands
surrounding the column show that Liberty now is a young and blooming
maiden, surrounded with fragrant flowers.
"The monument is designed to be fifty-five
feet high, which, for a square in a city, is of ample height.
The two steps and lower plinth to be of granite; and all the
rest, of the finest Italian marble, in solid blocks weighing
from one to six tons, and to be executed in the most artistical
and workmanlike manner; to rest on a solid foundation six feet
deep, or more, if the soil requires it. The first step to be
the twelve pieces, the second step in eight pieces, as also the
plith, of best hammered granite. The base-block in four pieces,
the base moulding in two pieces. the die with the cannon in four
pieces, jointed at the sides; each front will weigh five tons.
the cornice in two pieces; the base-block of shaft, as well as
every section of the shaft, each in one solid piece; the cap
of shaft in two pieces; the statue and columns each part in one
piece. All the parts that are composed of more than one piece
to be cramped with dovetail keys of metal. The monument to be
delivered and erected in Savannah in two years, say on or before
the 1st of July, 1854. [The statue was completed in Dec. 1853.]
The cost of the whole, as above specified, to be seventeen thousand
Source: George White, Historical Collections
of Georgia (New York: Pudney & Russell, 1855), pp. 308-312.
- Photo: Ed Jackson
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