|Venango County Civil War Monument Restoration|
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Historic Franklin Preservation Association
P.O. Box 866
Franklin, PA 16323
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Preserving Our Heritage: The Venango County Civil War Monument
The Historic Franklin Preservation Association (HFPA) has embarked on a mission to help preserve and protect the Civil War Monument located in Franklin's South Park, and you can help!
History of the Monument
During the Civil War, more than 500 soldiers from Venango County died in battle or as the result of injuries, disease, or imprisonment after capture by the Confederate Army. After the long war ended, Venango County erected one of the first monuments to pay tribute to those who fought and gave their lives for the Union.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument, as it was then known, was dedicated in September 1866 in a ceremony attended by an estimated crowd of 10,000. According to an article written by local historian Margo Mong, the marble monument was a premium for the Western Pennsylvania County that raised the most monetary contributions for the Soldiers and Sailors Sanitary Fair held in Pittsburgh in June 1864 to collect money and much needed supplies for Union soldiers. The nascent oil boom in the region may have increased the amount of donations. According to some accounts, a large donation from John “Coal Oil Johnny” Steele enabled the county to raise the most money. Venango County won the competition and was awarded the marble for the monument. It was later decided to locate the monument in Franklin, the county seat.
Early Efforts to Preserve the Monument
HFPA first began working towards the preservation of the Civil War Monument in 1988 when members noticed that some of the 400 names of the soldiers inscribed on the monument had faded to the point that they were barely legible. Members of the HFPA researched the names of the Venango County soldiers that died as a result of the war. Then, working with the City of Franklin and Venango County, HFPA commissioned five brass plaques for the 424 names that HFPA members had identified. The plaques were installed in July 1990 after a dedication ceremony held on Independence Day.
Over the years, the Civil War Monument has deteriorated considerably. The once gleaming white monument that was the focal point of Franklin’s South Park has become stained by air pollution and mold and has cracks in several places. The brass plaques have been defaced with scratches.
At one time the monument was surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Sometime during the 1930s or 1940s the fence was replaced by a low hedge. The hedge has grown so much that it obscures the base of the monument, diminishing the visual impact of the monument.
HFPA Project to Restore and Preserve the Civil War Monument
HFPA has begun working on a project to clean and stabilize the Civil War Monument using the latest conservation techniques in order to preserve it for future generations. The complete restoration will include cleaning the monument as well as new landscaping around the base of the monument. A new plaque will be created with the names of additional Venango County soldiers who died in the Civil War and who are not already included on the monument or one of the existing brass plaques.
HFPA has undertaken the restoration project with the support of the City of Franklin and its Commission to Remember Our Heroes, to honor those from Venango County who perished in the Civil War.
The Association then determined that the next step was to obtain a conditions assessment from a qualified conservation firm. In December 2012, HFPA was awarded an Oil Region Alliance $2,000 grant to help fund the cost of the conditions assessment of the Monument. The grant was provided through the Community Conservation Partnerships Program under the administration of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
The Association engaged Conservation Solutions, Inc. (CSI) of Forestville, MD to conduct the conditions assessment of the Monument in April 2013. The assessment found a number of issues that must be corrected to restore the Monument and prevent additional deterioration:
• Significant loss of mortar in the joints of both the marble sections of the monument and the sandstone base. These areas need to be cleaned and repointed.
• Cracks in both the sandstone and marble sections of the monument that must be carefully cleaned and repaired using injection grouting.
• Marble erosion has led to loss of carved details. The deterioration of the marble can be slowed by a process that strengthens it and restores adhesion.
• Discoloration due to air pollution and biological growths that should be cleaned with a special detergent and a low-pressure micro-abrasive cleaning technology specially designed for detailed work on sensitive building façades and monuments.
• Vandalism from graffiti and loss of a lacquer protective coating is leading to corrosion of the five brass plaques, which need to be refinished and protected with a new lacquer coating.
Conservation Solutions estimates that the cost of these steps to restore the Civil War Monument is $50,000.
You Can Help
The Civil War monument was brought to Venango County as a result of the citizens banding together to honor those who gave their lives to defend the Union. Now you can help ensure that the monument continues to stand as a reminder of their sacrifice for many more years to come. If you would like to help with the preservation efforts, please send contributions for the cause to HFPA, P.O. Box 866, Franklin, PA 16323. HFPA is a 501(C) 3 non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.
The Civil War monument was brought to Venango County as a result of the citizens banding together to honor those who gave their lives to defend the Union. Now you can help protect this historical landmark and ensure that the monument continues to stand as a reminder of their sacrifice for many years to come. If you would like to help with the preservation efforts, please send contributions for the cause to HFPA, P.O. Box 866, Franklin, PA 16323. HFPA is a 501(C)(3) non-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.