Historic Washington Monument restoration work continues for Hayles and Howe, Inc. plasterers in the 178-foot column and museum space of the nation’s first public monument to George Washington. Within the towering structure, the walls and central pillar were plastered with natural cement, some of which has been repaired by Hayles and Howe. The museum space will be plastered with Rosendale cement, a “natural cement” produced by Edison Coatings from limestone mined from an original mine in upstate Rosendale, New York. This cement is made of naturally-occurring limestone which contains about 25 percent clay minerals, and the material was chosen because there was original natural cement used inside the monument. The museum space is comprised of about 5000 sf of natural cement plaster including vaulted ceilings, impost cornice and other moldings and ashlar-jointed plaster walls to appear as stone. The historic record of the construction of the monument specifically indicates “hydraulic cement” which was likely how natural cement was called in 1830. The natural cement used in the monument may well have come from a Maryland producer of which there were at least two during that period. The monument is the centerpiece of Mt. Vernon Place, an area of public park space and cobblestone streets overseen by the Mt. Vernon Conservancy.
During the monument’s restoration, two time capsules including an 1815 time capsule in a cornerstone were unearthed. The cornerstone capsule contained papers from the time period in glass bottles and will be re-buried with the addition of present-day items to include a cast-replica of the George Washington face from the statue atop the monument based on 3-D scans. The restoration of this monument in Baltimore, known as the “Monumental City,” is rich with history, and Hayles and Howe are pleased to be part of it.