Washington Monument recovery from vandalism could take weeks

The National Park Service hopes to remove red paint sprayed on the Washington Monument in an act of vandalism, but fears the incident could leave marks on the structure’s surface.

U.S. Parks Police said Tuesday they arrested a man accused of scrawling an indecent message in red paint on the national landmark, and a large crowd sloshed alongside the words. Now, the Parks Service says teams will act quickly to stop the red paint seeping into the monument’s permeable surface.

National Mall spokesman Mike Litterst told Washington, DC ABC affiliate WJLA that the Park Service’s in-house conservation team will be at the memorial first thing Wednesday morning to begin removing the paint.

“One of the concerns, of course, is that marble is a very porous material, so we need to get to it quickly before it absorbs a lot of the paint,” he said.

Vandalism at the Washington Monument
US Parks Police guard the Washington Monument after a vandal scrawled graffiti and threw red paint at the national landmark in Washington, DC. A police spokesman said a man was in custody.
Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Litterst told the broadcaster he hopes the cleanup will be similar to an incident in 2013 where the Lincoln Memorial was forced to close after a person threw green paint at President Abraham Lincoln’s 19-foot statute. Both memorials are marble, Litterst said, and the Lincoln Memorial has been restored without a trace of vandalism.

Litterst told WJLA that it would likely take “a number of treatments” over the next two to three weeks to completely remove the paint from the Washington Monument, adding that conservation teams are familiar with the work ahead.

The Lincoln Memorial was cleaned again in 2017 after a vandal attacked it with red spray paint. Previously, restoration teams have repaired damage to other national monuments in the nation’s capital, which have been defaced with paint, with black markings often used to convey political messages.

“We have one of the largest outdoor sculpture collections in the nation right here on the National Mall,” Litterst told WJLA. “So that’s something they’ve unfortunately done before and have the skills to do that.”

In a statement to news week, Park Police said, “The area at the base of the memorial will be temporarily closed.”

“Conservators from the National Park Service will be working on the restoration process,” police said in the statement. “The investigation is ongoing and no more detailed information is available at this time.”

Located on the National Mall, the Washington Monument is a 555-foot-tall marble obelisk that was completed in 1884 to honor the country’s first president, George Washington, according to the Parks Service.

https://www.newsweek.com/washington-monument-could-take-weeks-restore-after-vandalism-1744739 Washington Monument recovery from vandalism could take weeks

Rick Schindler

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