Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Preserving history is a critical need

The Doughboy leans against his rock wall at the bottom of Monument Terrace, downtown Lynchburg. The butt of his rifle rests between his feet, the barrel held casually in one hand. For weeks, he reclines against the wall, waiting for help.

The Doughboy — Lynchburg Museum system director Dough Harvey held the bayonet that broke off the statue in downtown Lynchburg. Office of Promotional Publications

Crafted in 1926, the Doughboy serves as a monument to the city’s soldiers who died in World War I. The statue recently received a new bayonet, thanks to donations made by Liberty University through the Lynchburg Save Outdoor Sculptures! (LSOS!), after an act of vandalism left the rifle’s bayonet broken.

But the Doughboy is not the only one who needs help. Numerous historically-significant statues and monuments around Lynchburg are also in need of continuous repair and maintenance. LSOS! is a committee of Lynchburg’s Historical Foundation that raises the necessary funds for these projects.

According to lychburgva.gov, the Historical Foundation established LSOS! in 1996. Originally, the program was called Save Our Statues!, but in an effort to revamp the old initiative, the fundraiser received a name makeover as well.

LSOS! has successfully undertaken the restoration of several projects, including the Dolphin fountain at the Community Market, the John Warwick Daniel Statue at the corner of Park Avenue and Ninth Street, the Water Pitcher at Old City Cemetery, the Jubal Early Monument on Fort Avenue, and the Marshall Packet Boat at Riverside Park. In addition, LSOS! donated $40,000.00 in 2003 toward the preservation of Monument Terrace.

The organization has an impressive list of achievements to show for its 16 years of existence. However, in light of the recent Doughboy repair and other major projects, the fundraiser is receiving fresh attention.

When the Liberty University administration read about the damage to the Doughboy statue, they donated $2,000 to LSOS! for the new bayonet, a generous gift that was noted in News and Advance on June 27.

“(Liberty’s contribution) is a shot in the arm for us to get started again,” Sally Schneider, executive director of Lynchburg Historical Foundation, said.

The current initiative of LSOS! is the repairing of the 2nd Virginia Cavalry Marker, located in Miller Park. The monument has lacked a scabbard for so long that no one seems to remember what it looked like before the piece went missing. The statue is now in the process of getting refitted for a new scabbard thanks to funding through LSOS!.

Although the committee has accomplished much, there are still many other statues and monuments throughout the city in desperate need of renovation. The next project on the agenda is the restoration of the Greek Water Bearer Statue at the Old City Reservoir on Clay Street, which was destroyed by vandals.

The Water Bearer, sculpted in the late 1800s, is Lynchburg’s oldest outdoor artwork, making it a very expensive undertaking. The Historical Foundation is still assessing the project, but Schneider told the News and Advance that the cost to repair the Water Bearer could be as much as $18,000 and that they are currently seeking to raise $25,000 for similar projects throughout Lynchburg.

They clearly need public involvement. As a gift to the community to show our appreciation, and as a way to preserve history for future generations, we should consider contributing and supporting the efforts of LSOS.

“Lynchburg has a long and proud history, and these monuments are important symbols that illustrate this history,” Schneider said in a news brief posted on the city of Lynchburg’s website. “We hope the Lynchburg community will join with us to provide the funding to make these whole again.”

Anyone interested in supporting this effort should contact the Lynchburg Historical Foundation, either by phone at 528-5353 or by email at lhfi@centralva.net.

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