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A Monumental Bicentennial Celebration

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

8:30 am to 5:00 pm

MonumentalBicentennial.org

600 block of North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore is celebrating the bicentennial of the nation’s first monument dedicated to George Washington! The $5.5 million dollar restoration of the Washington Monument recently undertaken by the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy will culminate in the rededication and reopening of Baltimore’s iconic Washington Monument.  Presented by Bank of America, the Monumental Bicentennial celebration will take place on Saturday, July 4th, 2015 from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the 600 block of North Charles Street in Baltimore, Maryland.

The patriotic celebration includes the official re-dedication of the monument and ribbon cutting at 10:45am immediately followed by an old-fashioned country fair featuring family-fun, hands-on activities, crafts, historical re-enactments, old-fashioned games and contests, live music, and picnic-style food concessions from local farmers and vendors. Admission is free.

For more information, visit:  www.MonumentalBicentennial.org

 

 

The Importance and Significance of Baltimore’s Washington Monument

Baltimore’s Washington Monument, the centerpiece of a National Historic Landmark District, was constructed 200 years ago when Baltimoreans envisioned and commenced one of the most beautiful urban spaces in America, Mount Vernon Place.  The Monument and the four surrounding squares of Mount Vernon Place have been enjoyed by generations of Baltimoreans, travelers from around the world, and major historical figures including Abraham Lincoln, King Edward VIII and Peter Tchaikovsky for their beauty and significance on the national stage of history.

John Eager Howard, owner of the large “Belvidere Estate”, donated the land for the monument, a square 200 feet wide.  The construction was funded by a public lottery.  Robert Mills designed the monument and its ornamental fence.  He later designed the better-known Washington Monument in Washington D.C.

The cornerstone was laid on July 4th, 1815, shortly after the end of the War of 1812.  Baltimoreans were particularly proud to be erecting this monument to Washington in light of their recent role in securing American liberty during the Battle of Baltimore, a turning point in the War of 1812.

1814 Image

Baltimoreans were also proud that the Monument was built of local white marble, from quarries in Baltimore County, just north of the City.  In 1829, the Monument was completed when the statue of Washington, sculpted by Italian artist Henrico Causici, was raised to the top. The statue of George Washington depicts him submitting his resignation as Commander-In-Chief of the Continental Army in Annapolis in 1783, an act symbolic of his belief in the new American form of democratic government and the world’s most famous peaceful transfer of power.
Construction Workers
John Eager Howard’s heirs, working with architect Robert Mills, laid out the surrounding four park squares in 1831.  A significant redesign was accomplished by Frederick Law Olmstead, Sr. and the City of Baltimore beginning in 1876.  This design remained in place until 1917 when America entered World War I.  In 1917, as a gesture of support for the French, ground was broken for a statue of the Marquis de Lafayette, who aided the colonial army in the Revolutionary War.  To create a setting for this new statue, the park squares underwent a major redesign by the prestigious firm of Carrerre and Hastings, the architects of the New York Public Library, from 1917-1924.  Their design remains intact today.  President Calvin Coolidge, members of the French diplomatic mission in Washington, and a crowd of thousands were present for the dedication of the Lafayette statue in 1924.

The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy (Conservancy)

The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy (Conservancy) was formed in October 2008, with leadership from the Friends of Mount Vernon Place and the Mount Vernon-Belvedere Association.  In April of 2012, the Conservancy entered into an Agreement with the City of Baltimore authorizing the Conservancy to restore and manage the Washington Monument and the surrounding four squares.

Rendering Restored Vision: Mount Vernon Place, South Square

Illustration courtesy of OLIN
Shortly after the Agreement with the City was signed, the Conservancy engaged OLIN, a leading landscape architecture firm widely known for their transformative design of Bryant Park in New York to develop a Master Plan for Mount Vernon Place that will take new lighting and electrical systems, traffic calming, and greater access for the disabled.  In addition, a significant component of the plan embraces the latest in soil technology and sustainability, plus new irrigation and drainage, with the goal of a rich and sustainable landscape.
The Monument restoration kicked off in January of 2014 and will be completed and re-opened to the public on July 4, 2015—the bicentennial of the laying of its cornerstone.  Interactive museum exhibits are currently being developed for the Monument.
The first phase will focus on a “virtual visitor experience” which will include the climb and views from the top as well as footage of areas not accessible to the public such as the 200 year old signatures found in the basement vaults.   The second phase will focus on an interactive history module.
UnderConstruction

All primary content will be available on-site and also online at the Conservancy’s website (MVPConservancy.org) and Facebook page (Facebook/mountvernonplace).  The latter is serving as a blog about the Washington Monument restoration.  The Conservancy will continue to manage the squares and the monument after restoration so that they may be enjoyed and sustained by future generations while once again becoming a must-see destination for visitors to the City.

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