Hillsdale’s Civil War Monument is set to be restored thanks to this year’s senior class gift.
Retired Professor of History Tom Conner announced the class of 2021’s choice in a video played at the annual Legacy Dinner on Jan. 13.
“The guys commemorated on that monument served higher ideals. We can see the monument, but what we can’t see is the patriotism that they lived and the value they attached to their education,” Conner said. “That monument is meant not just to honor them but to inspire us to be like them.”
The 126-year-old statue, sculpted by Lorado Taft and standing between Lane and Kendall halls, is missing its original sword and the names of the men on its base are illegible.
“We hope to have participation from at least 50% of the senior class this year,” said senior and Legacy Board member Sterling Wertanzl. “We may be young, and we may have little to give, but collectively we can make a big impact on our soon-to-be alma mater.”
According to Associate Dean of Men Jeffery “Chief” Rogers, decades of exposure to the elements have caused the statue’s sword to break off, and the names of Hillsdale’s student veterans to fade from the statue’s base.
“I’m talking with the sculptor who will do the restoration to see if he can re-attach the sword, which is our preferred method, but if he can’t, to fashion one just like it,” Rogers said.
Along with the senior class and the 1844 Society, the restoration project is spearheaded by Rogers and two student veterans, Isaac Hobelman and Zechariah Steiger, who noticed the statue’s deterioration during their first few weeks at Hillsdale.
“Isaac and I both have classes in Kendall and we noticed that the scabbard for the sword was broken off and some of the names were getting dirty,” Steiger said. “We brought it up to Chief and developed the idea to restore the statue.”
Hobelman said any funds exceeding the restoration budget will hopefully “go toward the long-term goals of expanding and adding to the statue.”
“I think it’s wonderful for the class of 2021 to want to refurbish that monument,” Conner said in the video at the Legacy Dinner. “Maybe our students will embrace all those ideals and make them part of their personal mission.”
At the monument’s dedication in 1895, Congressman A.J. Hopkins said that “Hillsdale College “gave to her country’s service the very flower of her students.”