New Study Reveals Threats to New Hampshire Historic Site

Date:   September 27, 2004
Contact:   Andrea Keller, NPCA, 202-454-3332

New Study Reveals Threats to New Hampshire Historic Site

Washington, D.C. - A new report released today by the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) reveals that the historic Cornish, New Hampshire, home of 19th-century sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens is threatened by insufficient funding.

“Saint-Gaudens is a wonderful place to learn about the artistic history of our nation,” said NPCA’s State of the Parks® Cultural Resources Program Manager Darcy Gamble. “If only it, like all of our under-funded national parks, had the money needed to nourish the legacy of one of America’s greatest sculptors.”

According to NPCA’s new State of the Parks® report, the operating budget of Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is short nearly $350,000 annually, impacting the National Park Service’s ability to adequately protect 8,000 works of art and several significant structures, including a stone bridge that dates to 1889. The Park Service cannot afford to hire sufficient seasonal personnel to help with historic maintenance and visitor outreach during the busy summer months. Additionally, fire protection and security systems are needed to protect the park’s historic structures and priceless museum collections.

The financial needs of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site are echoed across the park system. Research by NPCA has revealed that national parks across the country operate with only two-thirds of the needed funding—an annual shortfall in excess of $600 million system-wide. Rep. Jeb Bradley (R-1st) is a member of the National Parks Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives, which is working to secure increased funding for the national parks. Both presidential campaigns have taken positions on the financial health of the National Park System.

“Congress and the administration must fulfill their obligation to the nation’s heritage,” Gamble added, “or remarkable places like the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site will soon fall into neglect.”

Congress created the 148-acre Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in 1964 from buildings and land donated by the Trustees of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial to protect and interpret the gardens and historic buildings where the sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, called “the American Michelangelo,” lived and worked from 1885-1907.

Saint-Gaudens created more than 200 commissioned works of art such as the U.S. $20 gold coin, widely regarded as the most beautiful ever minted; a copper statue of Diana; and many Civil War monuments including a relief of Colonel Robert Shaw and soldiers from the 54th Massachusetts regiment, the first official black regiment to fight for the Union, unveiled on Boston Common in 1897. His bronze statue of General Sherman led by Victory, stands at the entrance to New York’s Central Park; one of President Lincoln, created in 1887, stands in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

Today, the Park Service and the Trustees of the Saint Gaudens Memorial (a non-profit park partner) continue to promote the arts by hosting many programs at the site, including concerts, sculpture classes, artists-in-residence, and exhibitions.

A traveling exhibit of Saint-Gaudens’ works began its itinerary to 12 cities in February 2003, and will end in November 2005. From Oct. 21, 2004 thru Jan. 2, 2005, the exhibit will be shown at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Montgomery, Alabama, and from Jan. 26 thru Mar. 20, 2005, at Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts.

NPCA launched the landmark State of the Parks program in 2000 to assess the health of national parks across the country. The product of a yearlong analysis, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site: A Resource Assessment, is the 17th NPCA State of the Parks report.


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