For three years the Society for the Historical Preservation of the 26th Regiment North Carolina Troops, Inc., has been working with the Department of Cultural Arts of the city of Asheville to prepare for a full scale conservation of the Vance Monument and plaques found at Pack Square in Asheville. A ceremony was held on Saturday to celebrate this project’s completion. Few names are more intertwined with North Carolina’s history than that of Zebulon Baird Vance, who was born in a log cabin in the Reems Creek Valley. He was a man who worked tirelessly for the people of North Carolina. Asheville City Councilman Jan Davis spoke on behalf of the City, and Chairman David Gantt of the Buncombe County Commission spoke on behalf of Buncombe County. Also recognized was the Vetust Study Club, who was the primary donor giving $50,000. On display were the artifacts taken from the original 1897 time capsule removed back in April.
The ceremony took many of its elements from the original 1897 dedication ceremony. The 65 foot granite obelisk Vance monument has towered over the square for 118 years. The Grand Master of NC Freemasons was there, along with many Freemasons from across the state, to rededicate the monument, just as their predecessors did when the cornerstone was dedicated in 1897. The same songs were sung by students, a message from Zebulon Vance’s wife, Florence Vance, was read, and a poem about the monument written in 1910 was read. Wreaths were presented by the 26th North Carolina and the Chapter 104 of the United Daughter’s of the Confederacy.
Kestrel Construction served as the general contractor and the actual conservation work was performed by Karkadoulias Bronze Art company and assisted by some local masons from Living Stone Masonry. This work will prepare the monument for the next 100 years. Before, the monument was badly deteriorated, and the NC Preservation Consortium had actually placed it on the list of North Carolina’s most endangered artifacts.
Also announced at the ceremony is the effort by the city to pull together the contents for the new time capsule that will be placed back into the base of the monument. The original artifacts will go into the hands of the NC state archives to be preserved for future generations. Over the course of this summer, tables will be set up at a variety of venues and an online process will be set up to take ideas for what should be included in the new time capsule. A selection committee will be chosen to cull through the ideas and submission to decide the final list of items. In September the new time capsule will be installed. Debbie Ivester with the city of Asheville’s Cultural Arts has all of the information about the time capsule if you need more.