As summer arrives and schools close for the break, Augusta, Georgia, has seen an increase in vandalism, particularly targeting its historic monuments. Over the past week, three downtown monuments have been defaced. The Spanish American War monument, the Masonic monument, and the Paine College founding marker have all been damaged or had parts stolen.
The bronze emblem of the Spanish American War monument is now hanging precariously, appearing as though someone attempted to pry it off. Local resident Kevin De L’Aigle expressed his dismay upon discovering the damage, describing it as a heartbreaking sight.
Not far from this monument, the Masonic monument has also been vandalized. The Bible that once sat atop the monument is now missing. Steven Fishman, Worshipful Master of Webb Masonic Lodge, expressed his disbelief and disappointment at the act, comparing it to grave robbing.
Around the corner, the original Paine College founding marker has been knocked to the ground, causing an estimated $2,000 worth of damage. This act of vandalism has wider implications, potentially decreasing real estate value by up to 15% and negatively impacting the city’s economy.
The community is calling on city officials to address the issue. Fishman also revealed that the vandalism has financial consequences for the Masonic Lodge’s scholarship program. The Lodge, which gives out tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships annually, will have to reduce the number of scholarships due to the cost of repairing the monument.
Despite the disappointment and frustration, Fishman hopes that the area can continue to serve as a historical corridor for visitors to appreciate Augusta’s rich history. The city has expressed its regret over the incidents but clarified that the responsibility for repairs lies with the organizations that erected the monuments.
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