The Waterford statue in Washington will have a new backdrop for its 100th anniversary
WATERFORD – The George Washington Statue Park in Waterford will have a facelift this year for the statue’s centenary.
The Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society will re-dedicate the George Washington statue on August 27 and is raising funds to spruce up the park for the occasion.
Plans include new landscaping.
“It’s been a while since the park has been updated, and we want to give it a facelift,” said Patrick Jenks, a member of the Historical Society’s committee responsible for improving the park. “The park is a bookend at one end of the city, and we want to beautify it for the city.”
And for visitors too.
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“So many people pass through Waterford and stop to see the statue and have their picture taken with the statue. We want to give them a better backdrop,” Jenks said.
Historians plan to replace the plantings with native plants like those from an adjacent historic garden.
“We want the plantings in the park to be easier to maintain and to connect to the 18th century garden behind it, where the plants are plants that would have grown in the three forts,” Jenks said.
Waterford in the 18th century was alternately the site of French, British and American forts.
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A conference area is also planned in the park.
“One of the long-term goals of the Historical Society is to provide more educational programs, including guest speakers and classes like our (flint-size),” Jenks said.
A group of flint cutters meet regularly at the society’s Fort LeBoeuf Museum. Flint knapping is the art of cutting or chipping stone to make flints and tools.
“We’d like to have weekend afternoon guest lectures at the park, where people aren’t crammed into a small room and can enjoy the outdoors,” Jenks said. “There could also be educational programs on native plants.”
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The Washington Statue Park is located just south of the Eagle Hotel on High Street, or Route 19, in Waterford. The statue of George Washington in the park commemorates Washington’s visit to the French garrison at Fort LeBoeuf in what is now Waterford in December 1753. Washington carried a message to the French commander that his troops were encroaching on British territory .
The French did not see it that way. The French and Indian War then settled the claim in favor of the British.
The Waterford statue depicts Washington at age 21 as a major in the Virginia militia, as he was when he visited Fort LeBoeuf.
The life-size bronze likeness cost $13,000 and was dedicated before a crowd of thousands on August 30, 1922.
“Waterford has seen some very interesting events in its history, but nothing quite like it,” reported the Erie Daily Times on opening day. “The roads leading to the historic district were jammed with automobiles all morning. The whole county seemed to have declared a holiday and filled the village for the day’s ceremonies.”
Dignitaries were led to the site in a parade of ‘flags unfurled, soldiers marching through the streets, martial music by excellent bands…and with more thousands of people than historic Waterford has ever seen before “, according to the newspaper report.
The introductory speech was by William Stevenson, president of the Pennsylvania Historical Association. The statue was accepted on behalf of the people of Waterford and Pennsylvania by Governor William Sproul.
Count Charles de Chambrun, great-great-grandson of the Marquis de Lafayette, also took part in the ceremony.
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- The Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $5,000 for the park project.
- It also sells Statue of Washington Centennial Commemorative Medals available on the company’s Facebook page; at the Fort LeBoeuf Museum, 55 High St.; and at Fort LeBoeuf Center, 108 High St. Cost is $10 through April. The price will drop to $15 on May 1.
- Donations for park improvements are also accepted by mail to: Fort LeBoeuf Historical Society, PO Box 622, Waterford, PA 16441. Note that the donation is for Washington Statue Park.