Even before you enter the gates of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry these days, it’s obvious that there is heavy construction activity going on in and around this popular national monument and historic shrine. As I write this, part of the entrance is blocked for a new sidewalk and curb installation and, just inside the gate, you are directed off to the right to a temporary parking lot. The old parking lot and the public restrooms have been removed and the site is being prepared for the construction of a new Visitor and Education Center, scheduled to open in the fall of 2011.
Meanwhile, the statue of Orpheus, an important figure from Greek mythology, revered for his association with poetry and music, and in this case dedicated to Francis Scott Key, composer of the Star Spangled Banner, was swathed for a time in scaffolding. Both Orpheus and the statue of Lieutenant Colonel George Armistead, commander of the fort during the British Navel bombardment in 1814, were cleaned and treated with a custom wax coating to seal and protect their natural green patina. The same wax treatment was applied to the Francis Scott Key Plaque near the sally port entrance to the fort itself. These chores have been completed. The statues and plaque are looking sharp and await the completion and re-dedication of the new and expanded visitor facilities. Who knows, perhaps that clear blue sky in the “AFTER” image of Orpheus is an omen from the gods, foretelling a happy on-time and under-budget ending for the entire project.
Copyright © 2009 Jim Sizemore.