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43 crumbling presidential busts…

January 23, 2020

President George Washington.
Image courtesy of: Adventure, photographed by: Kelly Paras

In a relatively remote part of Virginia, about two and a half hours away from Washington DC, there is a ragged industrial field that has become a resting place for 43 gigantic busts of former American presidents. Standing 15-18 feet tall and weighing 8-10 tons apiece, these sculptures were made by David Adickes.

Up until 2010, these 42 statues used to inhabit “Presidents Park” in Williamsburg, Virginia. When the park closed ten years ago, the busts were transported via a flatbed truck to Croaker, about twelve miles away. Not properly secured, the sculptures suffered many casualties… Bill Clinton is missing part of his right ear and Ronald Regan looks as though he might have been struck by lightning.

The former Presidents Park.
Image courtesy of: Adventure, photographed by: A. Currell

After Presidents Park closed in 2010, the park owner ordered the busts destroyed. Fortunately, a nearby farmer, Howard Hankins, felt uncomfortable about destroying the colossal replicates. Hankins had helped construct the park and he decided to spend his own money to move the busts to his family’s land nearby.

Hankins’ hope was that he would one day be able to recreate the park… but a better replicate. In 2016 he was quoted as saying, “My plan is a real White House, actual size, with tours, a ballroom—every event the White House has, I’m going to have it.”

Abraham Lincoln.
Image courtesy of: PBS, photographed by: Joshua Barajas

At this point, only one of the heads has been fully restored. Andrew Jackson, the seventh president, is the sole bust to be in perfect condition. It is easy to see how the busts were damaged in the flatbed during the move; however, the damage was also caused from the hole that bore into the skull of each bust as it was necessary to move them by crane.

George Washington facing of the other presidents.
Image courtesy of: This Is Colossal, photographed by: Patrick Joust

There is a tremendous amount of maintenance that goes into upkeeping these 43 giants. Power-washing is necessary to make sure that moss and mold doesn’t overtake the sculptures and re-plastering parts as needed is part of the process that goes into maintaining the 18-20 foot busts.

George Washington is the most prominently displayed bust, with Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Jackson nearby. Behind them are three rows of busts that feature the remaining forty presidents. About our country’s first president, Hawkins said, “I always go back to George Washington, I mean he founded everything and they came up with the ideas, and he could’ve been a monarch and he gave up that. Giving up that power he had was amazing and doing that fighting to free our country. What a guy.”

 

Presidents Head Park courtesy of Earth Titan.

Hawkins hopes that eventually, he will be able to reopen the defunct park. Along with that, he will make sure one of the first priorities is to make busts of Barack Obama and Donald Trump. We can’t wait!

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