An American Monument to Surpass the Pyramids

Complete Document
When I took the commission to create the memorial to the Southern Confederacy on the face of Stone Mountain, near Atlanta, Georgia, I found that my predecesssor had cut into the solid granite an unfinished head fo great size, with two large holes on each side of it, and that he had destroyed whatever idea or design he may have had or contemplated.

This left me free to create my own ideas and design a composition that would emody the unfinished head, wich was already carved. It meant also that I must use the rough stone masses, with the holes on either side. My general design had to conform to the physical conditions as they then existed, and, therefore, both the head and the holes largely magnified the difficulties in the creation of a new design for Stone Mountain.

It is difficult to realize the enormity of this task. The equestrian figures to be cut into the face of the mountain will be 153 feet in height, as high as a ten story building, or as Hollins N. Randolph, the President of the Association, has expressed it: "The great Sphinx of Egypt, if placed on General Lee's shoulder, would conceal only a part of his head. Gneral Lee's shoulder will form a ledge of granite on which could be constructed a platform large enough to seat comfortably fifty people. The head of a six foot man standing on General Lee's moustache is on a level with Lee's eyebrow."

It is planned that this gigantic piece of sculpture shall be done in three parts. first, equestrian figures of Jefferson Davis, General Lee, and General Jackson in the attitude of receiving a review of the marching army; second, directly behind the three leaders, two color bearers and four other Generals who are to be chosen by the State Historians of the South; third, the marching army, so designed as to give the illusion of thousands of marching soldiers-infantry, cavalry, artillery, all arms of the service.

To that idea for carving the mountain into a gigantic panorama has been added a conception for the creation of a great Memorial Hall in the solid rock at the base of the mountain, directly under the vast work of sculpture stretching 1, 600 feet across the granite. In this vast scheme will be the Memorial Hall dedicated to the women of the Southland, the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a museum, a great lagoon or reflection pool, a facade of colossal columns cut out of the mountain, over the architrave of which will be an entablature with an inscription in six languages, so that in centuries to come students may read the purpose for which it was created. the inscription will read:

To the Valor of the Southern Soldiers

The hall to be cut out of the solid granite will be larger than any other similar hall ever created, larger than the famous tombs of the second cataract of the Nile and larger than most of the natural caves in the world.

It is a staggering thought that this vast monument will veritably outlast the ravages of time and remain for centuries without end as a monument not alone to the soldiers of the Confederacyor to the women of the South, but also to the achievements of the twentieth century. Geologists estimate that this mountain erodes at the rate of one fourth of an inch in 1, 000 years! Think what that means-this monuments will endure forever, or into another geologic age! Perhaps, when all life has perished from the earth and the whirling planet enters a new phase, that evidence of the imagination and handiwork of man of this century will carry into mute ages its great story of the valor of the soldiers of the South. Or, as has been said by Mr. Randolph:

But this monument cannot fall; it is part of the earth: it will be one of the last parts of earth to crumble. The Parthenon is gone: the Colesium at Rome is only a mass of stones for tourists to photograph: records, histories, and buildings decay even as even the Pyramids are decaying after 3, 000 years, but in this imperishable natural stone at its natural place on earth will be the inscriptions that may comprise the Rosetta Stone for future ages.

The first step in the creation of this vast panorama of the Southern army on the face of the mountain is the fashioning of a series of small models about fifteen inches high. There are to be three of these, in accordance with the division of the panorama into three parts, as I have described earlier in the article. When the details of the first small model were complete, and approved, it was enlarged five times into a more perfect detailed model, known as the master model. Finally, the master model will be enlarged sixteen times, into the final design upon the mountain. The actual design of the master model will be transferred to Stone Mountain by a series of mathemathical measurements which will plot the course of every curve. A scale will be set up before the master model, which is about eleven feet high, or one-third larger than the life size of man and horse, and every square inch of the model will be accurately plotted with relation to its distance from the scale; when this design then is transferred to the granite of the mountain each sixteen-inch area will conform in "topography" to the measurements of the master model. the creative work of the sculptor will be done largely on the master model. The larger creation will be mainly a job far carvers, though the sculptor will supervise.

Physical difficulties are, of course, enormous, and in some cases will necessitate departure from strict adherence to faithful detail; we must take such artistic liscnese as the physical conditions require. For instance, it is known to artists who have created military statues that the mounted officer carries his sword or sabre suspended by a strap, it is not fastened to the belt as it is when he is dismounted. Strict adherence to this known fact would require us to cut a narrow piece of granite sixteen feet long to represent the strap--so narrow and fragile that it would probably fall down the side of the mountain of its own unsupported weight.

Therefore, we must fasten the swords to the belts.

In cutting the panorama upon the mountain we shall work from a steel scaffold erected before the face of the mountain. The work of cutting th first group--Davis, Lee, and Jackson--has begun, and construction of the scaffolding has started; as soon as the scaffold is completed the work can progress rapidly, so that these three figures should be finished in about two years.

At the foot of the mountain, under the procession of the heroes, the Memorial Hall will be cut into the solid granite. It will be fifty feet deep, ninety-five feet long, and fifty feet high, in the form of a semi-circel, with thirteen engaged columns of the Ionic order thirty feet high, each column to represent a State in the Confederacy; an entablature directly over the architrave of the columns and carrying directly across the semi-circle will be an inscription to the women of the South, for this Memorial Hall is to be dedicated to them. In the center of the hall will be a colossal female figure, representing Memory.

Between each pair of columns will be a tablet eight feet wide and twenty-five feet high, in which will be cut the names of the States, set in gold. Below each tablet, in the form of a continuous band cutting across the thirteen columns, is a vault, the face of which will be carved with a garland and the name of each State. The vault will be used for the Confederate roster of each State. Directly under the band is a stone seat and in front, on the floor or stylebeth, will be an inlay of golden bronze in the form of the coat of arms of each State. The capitals and the bases of the thirteen columns will be in gold.

The Memorial is to be approached by an entrance 650 feet from the mountain, the main entrance being a gateway forty feet wide, flanked by two pylons--a cluster of three columns twenty feet high. At right and left from the pylons will run a low wall terminating in necessary buildings. Upon entering the approach to the Memorial the visitors will descend three steps to an esplanade, which will contain a sunken lagoon 125 feet wide and 300 feet long. An unusual feature of this sunken lagoon will be that a deep recess cut under the towering pile of granite. This illusion is not created by any of the other great reflection pools of the world, either at the Lincoln Memorial or the Taj Mahal; in those great evidences the pool terminates some distance from the structure and stands apart from it. On the esplanade around this pool will be walks and rows of seats for those who visit the Memorial.

On a platform thirteen steps above the lagoon, and reflected in the water, will be the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, giving the impression that his bier is floating on a barge into eternity.

The visitor will ascend by steps and esplanades to another flight of forty-eight steps which lead directly to the Memorial Hall, each step designating a State in the Union in the order of admission to the Union. On each side of the steps will be a wall twenty-five feet high and eight feet thick, which will terminate in an engaged pedestal surmounted by a large incense-holder fourteen feet long and eight feet wide. It is the intention that these urns be used on special occasions for the burning of incense. On either side of the great stairway are two large flagstaffs, which will be used on ceremonial occassions.

The facade of Memorial Hall will be cut out of the solid granite of the mountain. It will have six Doric columns, each forth-one feet high and seven and one-half feet in diameter. Each column would weigh 150 tons if disengaged. Between columns will be thirteen feet of space, large enough to admit the passage of a railroad car, which will be used in the work of excavating the rock.

Looking down the steps of Memorial Hall into the lower basins, the visitor will have the impression of a vast amphitheater capable of seating tens of thousands of spectators.

The members of the Association who are undertaking such a vast project are to be congratulated upon their daring and patriotism. History, indeed, has a precedent for such an achievement. After the victories over the Persians, Pericles gathered in Athens the best sculptors and architects in the ancient world for the purpose of creating what all concede to have been one of the finest and most beautiful structures of all time--the Parthenon. History tells us of the sculptors, architects, and directors of this enterprise fought over their diversities of opinion, only to come together again to finish the great task they had begun. So in the Renaissance Cellini and Michelangelo had differences with their employers, and in his anger at the Pope at the time of the completion of the Sistene Chapel Michelangelo painted the portrait of the Pontiff in that part of the ceiling set aside for the representation of the Inferno. Stone Mountain likewise has had its difficulties, which we hope now are ended.

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