Historic Monument Preservation
The Governor’s Commission on Maryland Military Monuments
Created in 1998, administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs and chaired by Secretary Edward Chow, Jr., the Commission consists of twenty volunteer members who bring military, historical, business and government expertise to the important work of safeguarding our State’s military monuments. Two MHT staff members serve on the Commission.
The Commission’s work is funded through the annual budget of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, donations have been raised through the generous support of individuals, private groups and veterans’ organizations. In partnership with the National Park Service, the Commission has worked to treat monuments at Antietam National Battlefield, Gettysburg National Military Park, and Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The Commission also has provided grants to the City of Baltimore in support of its efforts to conserve the Battle Monument and the Francis Scott Key Memorial Fountain.
For more information on monument conservation please contact Nancy Kurtz at (410) 514-7648.
Monuments Commission Projects
The efforts of the Commission have extended throughout the State and beyond, to include memorials commemorating the contributions of Marylanders on the battlefields of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Brooklyn, New York and Stephenson, Virginia. Professional conservation treatment has been provided for life-sized to heroic-scaled sculptures of bronze, copper, marble, granite, cast concrete, and many smaller reliefs and tablets. Maryland can claim among its inventory of memorials works by Edward Berge, Ephraim Keyser, Joseph Maxwell Miller, Giuseppe Moretti, Charles Henry Niehaus, Hans Schuler, E. M. Viquesney, Frederick Volk and Stanford White, as well as stock monuments from the American Bronze Company and the W. H. Mullins Company. Treatments conform to the U.S. Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties and are administered by conservation and historic preservation professionals under the direction of the Maryland Historical Trust.
The Monument to the Maryland 400 in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, New York, commemorates the contribution and sacrifice of the Maryland Line at the Battle of Long Island during the American Revolution. On August 27, 1776, some four hundred Maryland troops led a rear-guard action to check the British advance and protect the retreat of Washington’s greatly outnumbered army. The Marylanders launched six counter attacks at the Cortelyou House. During the last attack, Cornwallis’ troops were reinforced and the Marylanders were swept back to the Gowanus Canal. After the battle, 256 Marylanders were buried in a mass grave that is located a few blocks from the park. For this heroic action, Maryland became known as the Old Line State. The marble, granite and bronze monument, designed by Stanford White in 1895, was repaired and treated by the Monuments Commission and rededicated on August 27, 1991. The Commission also has sponsored fabrication and replacement of missing letters, to be completed in 2009.
Conservation and Maintenance
The Maryland Military Monuments Commission obtains the services of professional conservators and historic preservation professionals to determine and carry out appropriate treatments to care for the monuments. The Commission also has established a program of cyclical bronze maintenance in order to preserve the accomplished work. Bronze sculpture and tablets in an outdoor environment are exposed to particulates in the atmosphere which settle onto and corrode the surfaces. In urban and industrial areas the bronze may become pitted and uneven. Corrosion may follow water runoff patterns over the surface, forming streaks of light green and black. To respect the historic integrity of the monuments, the Commission follows a minimal and reversible treatment program, typically water cleaning of bronze sculptures and tablets, followed by the application of wax to the heated metal. The wax darkens the bronze and offers protection from weather. The coating is economical to apply and maintain.
For more information on the Monuments Commission and a list and tour of completed projects, see the website of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs.
For information and resources related to identifying, documenting and conserving outdoor sculpture nationwide, see the Save Outdoor Sculpture! website.
This page updated: July 25, 2011