Ask any who have undertaken preservation of an aging structure about perseverance; they too will tout its importance. Others speak of the "3 'P's" -- "Purpose, Perspiration and Perseverance."
One hundred and fifty years ago our nation was involved in the American Civil War, one of the greatest "contests" it had ever faced. While the issue of slavery was at the center of the conflict, the preservation of the Union established by the framers of our Constitution was to be determined by the outcome.
The war was very costly, requiring perseverance to the end for many involved in the contest.
At the end of the war, Putnam County citizens set about to erect a monument to those from their midst who lost their lives in the conflict. Within months, they raised $5,000 and contracted with T.D. Jones of Cincinnati for the purpose of creating a proper monument.
Within five years, that monument was erected, and on July 2, 1870 an appropriate dedication drew 8,000 to Greencastle's Forest Hill Cemetery. One hundred and forty-two years have passed and that monument to "perseverance" now beckons Putnam County citizens to persevere in preserving it to proudly stand as a monument to American principles and values in the midst of the tests of the 21st century.
The Heritage Preservation Society of Putnam County is spearheading an effort to raise funds for the assessment of the current status of the monument and for stabilization from further erosion prior to the end of the year and a community-minded couple is playing a significant role in getting that effort off the ground.
Kim and Tim Shinn, neighbors of past HPS Board president Phil Gick, have recently offered HPS an opportunity for a public tour of the Dr. Clinton Zaring House, located at the corner of Poplar and Vine streets in Greencastle with the stipulation all proceeds go toward preserving the Civil War Soldiers' Monument.
In the fall of 2011, the Shinns purchased the property at auction. Working through the winter on the infrastructure, little activity may have been noticeable to passersby. But persevering through this extremely hot summer of 2012 the couple and local contractors have demonstrated a flurry of activity all about the property.
In recent weeks as the restoration of the once-declining structure and associated doctor's office have moved toward completion, HPS and the Shinns have scheduled a tour date of Saturday, Aug. 18.
The home tour offers an opportunity to share with the community a home long associated with the memories of numerous county residents and at the same time to raise funds to preserve the Civil War Soldiers' Monument.
Concurrently, HPS Board president Ken Eitel has made known an offer to match, dollar for dollar, funds raised up to $1,250. That offer when fully funded would meet estimated costs to assess the monument's current condition and begin a three-stage process discussed with Arsee Engineers of Fishers.
The firm has supplied HPS with the following estimates for the three-stage proposal of attending to the restoration of the monument: Stage 1, Assessment, $2,500; Stage 2, Stabilization, $5,000 to $10,000; Stage 3, Restoration, $25,000 to $50,000.
HPS firmly believes the monument, arguably the second most significant Civil War Monument in the state, merits the attention of Putnam County citizens. HPS members also affirm that along with the Buzz Bomb and Doughboy war memorials located on the Courthouse Square, the Civil War Soldiers' Monument is a county icon and a valuable asset to Putnam County tourism.
The care of such icons and assets demonstrates that residents regard their county as a great place to live. In the future, HPS would like to see the development of a fund to provide for the ongoing care of these important memorials.
While HPS is spearheading initial fundraising in regard to the Civil War Soldiers' monument, the enlistment of a community coalition to carry on with future fundraising for complete restoration will be needed.
Anyone who will commit to helping in this way should contact HPS by calling 522-1430, 848-1111 or 653-3403.
The Dr. Clinton Zaring House will be open to tour on Saturday, Aug. 18 from 11:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Tickets will sell for: Adults, $10; students, $5; under 6 free. Pre-tour tickets will be available at the Putnam County Museum, the Downtown Deli (aka Treasures on the Square), Eitel's and First National Bank at reduced prices: Adults, $9; students, $4.
All ticket proceeds will go to the Monument Restoration Fund. Donations for the Civil War Soldiers' Monument may be sent to HPS at P.O. Box 163, Greencastle, IN 46135. Donations are tax-deductible.