"A FITTING MEMORIAL IN THE SQUARE"
Few names are more intertwined with North Carolina's history than that of Zebulon Baird Vance. A man of the mountains born in a log cabin in the Reems Creek valley, Zebulon Vance would rise to hold some of the highest offices in the land. He would serve as a Buncombe County Solicitor, a member of the NC House of Commons, a U.S. Congressman, Captain of the "Rough and Ready Guards", Colonel of the 26th North Carolina Regiment, Governor of North Carolina, and a U.S. Senator. During his entire life, Zebulon Vance would work tirelessly for the people of North Carolina and he would become one of North Carolina's most distinguished sons. Following his death in 1894, a movement soon began to erect a monument to his memory in the public square (now known as Pack Square) in downtown Asheville. Richard Sharp Smith, supervising architect over the Biltmore House, offered his services to design a "fitting memorial in the square". In December of 1897 a group of more than 75 Freemasons gathered in the square to set the cornerstone and hold a ceremony to formally dedicate the 65 foot tall granite obelisk monument to Zebulon Vance.
For 117 years, the Vance monument has towered over the square. Entire lifetimes have come and gone in the time that this monument has existed. Through seven wars, times of plenty and times of scarcity, through political and social change, the Vance monument has stood its silent vigil. It has welcomed our troops home from war, presided over our celebrations and our times of sadness, and served as a backdrop for both presidents and protestors seeking to be heard. Though the square in which it sits and the city it calls home has undergone great change, the one constant has been the Vance monument. Though it was dedicated to the memory of a mortal man, it has also taken on a separate life of its own as the heart of the city of Asheville. If only it could tell the story of the city that has lived in its shadow for more than a century.
A MEMORIAL IN JEOPARDY
Unfortunately, time and the elements have done and are continuing to do extensive damage to the Vance monument. In 2008, a professional conservator was commissioned by the city of Asheville to prepare a report detailing the condition of the monument and recommendations for its care. The conservator recommended that the monument be placed on a “High Priority” status for preservation. The report states, in part: “The Vance monument is in fair to poor condition. Most conditions noted are likely older, although they are progressing. Deterioration of mortar in the joints is the most significant concern as the loss of mortar…will only cause further damage and loss, as well as possible structural instability in the future. Moisture infiltration into the obelisk through open joints has presented concern in the past…The presence of iron stains below joints suggests that there may internal iron pins which are corroding and possibly failed due to water infiltration.” The conservator made the following recommendations: the entire monument should have all the mortar joints repointed, that the granite surfaces to cleaned of soiling as well as staining, that the bronze plaques be cleaned and remounted with appropriate fasteners, and that the metal site fencing be scraped and repainted.
Such an extensive preservation project comes at a substantial cost. To help make this project a reality, the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, Inc. (26th N.C.) have formed a partnership with the Department of Cultural Arts of the city of Asheville. The 26th N.C., founded in 1981, is a non-profit historical society with more than 300 members in all regions of the state of North Carolina and other states as well. It also has a long record of historical preservation projects. In 2004, the 26th N.C. formed a formal partnership with the North Carolina Museum of History (NCMOH) to raise necessary funds for preservation projects within the museum’s collection. Since 2004, the 26th N.C. has raised more than $100,000 for historical preservation. A complete list of the preservations projects of the 26th N.C. is listed elsewhere in this site. Now, the preservation of the Zebulon Vance monument has become one of our chief concerns.
You or your organization can help save this important piece of North Carolina's heritage by supporting this preservation project. Please mail your check, payable to the “26th N.C.” and mail to the address listed below. Please indicate that your donation is for the "Vance Monument Fund” which insures that all money so marked will only go towards the Vance Monument preservation project. The Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th Regiment N.C. Troops, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization, and gifts are fully tax deductible. Please mail your donation to:
Vance Monument Fund
c/o Cole Hutcherson
2304 Chatham Dr.
Greensboro, NC 27408
CLICK ON THE BUTTON BELOW TO DONATE TO THIS IMPORTANT PROJECT
Please note that one hundred percent (100%) of all donations will go towards the Vance Monument project. With your help, we can ensure that the Zebulon Vance monument is not only part of our past, but our future as well.