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Vincennes plans rehab for memorial

The staff at a southwestern Indiana memorial that pays homage to Revolutionary War hero George Rogers Clark is drafting a plan that will drive repairs at the monument for decades to come.

After five years of nearly nonstop work and several million dollars, site superintendent Frank Doughman said the staff is pausing to determine what should be done next at the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. The memorial opened in the 1930s along the Wabash River in Vincennes, about 40 miles north of Evansville.

“For many years, and not just with us, there’s been a tendency to step in and fix a perceived problem without always looking at the best long-term solution,” Doughman told the Vincennes Sun-Commercial. “It’s been about short-term fixes.”

The circular, column-lined memorial includes a bronze statue of Clark, an American colonel who in 1779 led a force that captured the British fort at Vincennes, ending Britain’s claim to the region.

Doughman said it will cost about $75,000 to develop a long-range plan for maintaining the memorial.

Since 2008, the structure’s once-leaky terrace has been dismantled and rebuilt and its decorative flood wall along the Wabash has been repaired. More recently, the monument’s underground electrical and heating and air infrastructure was completely overhauled.

Doughman said there is other work that remains to be done, including repairing leaks in the rotunda. But before staff seeks another grant, they want to develop a long-term plan that will determine how best to tackle the structure’s remaining problems.

Doughman said an engineering contractor recently conducted an extensive examination of the memorial’s rotunda, assessing the condition of its drainage system, mortar, stone and the roof.

The park is also just one federal approval away from seeing the murals inside the rotunda preserved. The seven oil-on-canvas murals stand 28 feet tall and 16 feet long and depict the story of Clark historic taking of Britain’s Fort Sackville.