Valley News – Saint-Gaudens monument disfigured by anti-Semitic slogan, images


CORNISH – National Park Service rangers and New Hampshire State Police are seeking advice on anti-Semitic vandalism of the Temple monument in St. Gaudens National Historic Park, park officials say.

The damage, first reported by park staff on the morning of October 1, includes the degradation of the funeral monument at the park temple where Augustus Saint-Gaudens’ family is buried, according to a post on the Facebook page of the Park.

“We were heartbroken to discover this act of vandalism on the temple monument and the grave of the Saint-Gaudens family and we condemn both the act and the language used,” Superintendent Rick Kendall said in the message. “We are already working with curators from the National Park Service to carefully restore the monument. “

The monument, which stands in the far west of the Upper Park and separate from the other buildings on the site, has been tagged with paint, markers, and anti-Semitic language and symbols.

A photo attached to the Facebook post shows the pink letter C painted on each of the two front columns of the Greco-Roman temple, along with horizontal lines on the steps leading to a central sculpture with a list of those buried there inscribed on it. and was also pink in color.

The back of the monument, which park officials have chosen not to share photos of publicly, has been disfigured using a black permanent marker, park spokesperson Rainey McKenna said. Images on the back included swastikas and the words “Heil Hitler,” she said.

The Saint-Gaudens family was not Jewish and it is not known why the site would be targeted in this way, McKenna said. She was also unsure of the meaning of the letter C.

“It appears to be an act of random vandalism,” McKenna said.

The Saint-Gaudens family began spending the summer in Cornwall in 1885, according to the Park Service. Their presence there led to the formation of the Cornish Art Colony. The temple was originally built in plaster in 1905 for a show celebrating the 20th birthday of Auguste Saint-Gaudens in Cornwall. After his death in 1907, his wife, Augusta, commissioned a marble replica of the temple.

“The monument is very important to the site,” McKenna said.

John Dryfhout, who was curator and superintendent at Saint-Gaudens from 1966 to 2004, said that Vermont marble is “very porous” and “very difficult to clean”.

Dryfhout said the classical Greek mausoleum appears to be a “strange” target for vandalism.

“It’s a very sad thing,” he said of the vandalism. The “level of culture in the United States has really deteriorated.”

On Wednesday, the monument was covered with a tarpaulin awaiting further restoration. Museum curators from the National Park Service arrived on site on October 4 to begin processing the site, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They should complete the restoration by Friday.

McKenna said it’s not yet clear how much the restoration will cost, but restorers have so far been able to remove most of the pink paint and are expected to return on Thursday with additional material to deal with the black marker.

“Vandalism of this type is very difficult to eliminate and can be very costly,” McKenna said. It is “not always possible to restore it to its original state”.

This is not the first time in recent months that the park on a hill above Route 12A has been the target of vandalism. Earlier this year, someone pushed the capstones of a historic bridge at Blow-Me-Down Mill, McKenna said. However, this is the first time the site has been the target of this type of graffiti, she said.

Nor is the Temple the only work in the Twin States to have been disfigured in recent weeks. A statue of Abraham Lincoln outside the Bennington, Vt. Museum was vandalized over the Indigenous Peoples Day holiday weekend, according to the WNYT. The graffiti on this statue includes the number 38, which police say represents Dakota 38, a group of 38 Native American men who were hanged by order of Lincoln.

In his time, Dryfhout said, the Saint-Gaudens site would see planters overturned around Halloween, which he said employees would fix quickly.

He described the vandalism as a “disease” and said: “once it starts it will continue until someone stops it”.

Investigators are seeking additional information on the activities leading to the vandalism, which allegedly occurred between the afternoon of September 30 and the morning of October 1. Anyone with information about the incident can call 888-653-0009 or send an anonymous message. advice by email to [email protected], or by text or voicemail to 888-653-0009.

“We would appreciate the public’s help,” McKenna said.

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3213.

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