AUSTIN, Texas —
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) and noted conservator Robert Marshall of R. Alden Marshall & Associates restored an 80-year-old historical marker after it was vandalized in February.
The 1936 Texas Centennial marker commemorating a battle with American Indians on Packsaddle Mountain in 1873 was transformed Tuesday, May 23, after a full day of restoration work.
The marker, located on the east side of SH 71 in southeast Llano County, commemorates the battle between a group of Llano County settlers and American Indians. Over the years, the bronze center star was removed, the bronze wreath damaged, and some lettering marred by rust stains. But in February 2017, the marker was vandalized with graffiti. By March 2017, some cleaning efforts had taken place but the outline of graffiti was still prevalent, generating concerns that the damage might be permanent.
Restoring damaged Centennial markers is no easy task. Monday evening, Marshall coated the granite in a product named “elephant snot,” leaving the marker to soak overnight in order for the graffiti paint to saponify, or turn to soap. Tuesday morning, Marshall rinsed the soap and granite, leaving almost no trace of painted lettering. Next, the damaged bronze wreath was removed, a new piece was fitted for the granite, and the mounting holes were cleaned along with several rust stains. Finally, the polished bronze wreath and star were mounted to the granite.
Marshall has many years of experience repairing and preserving Texas’ rich history, including the restoration of the Tower Building of the 1936 Exposition in Dallas’ Fair Park and the gilded eagle sculpture by Raoul Josset atop the structure. The THC hired Robert Marshall in 2015 to work on eight East Texas Centennial markers. Marshall has worked on bronze conservation and maintenance of bronze art at the Pennsylvania State Capitol, conservation of the Civil War Monument in Kansas, Hall of State Sculpture “Tejas Warrior” in Dallas, Monument Hill in LaGrange and many more projects.
In 1935, the Texas Legislature created an advisory board of Texas historians for the Commission of Control for Texas Centennial Celebrations to supervise an array of activities to mark the state’s 100th anniversary. In addition to historical pageants, ceremonies, and restoration of historical buildings, the effort placed markers at sites where historic events occurred that were of significance in the development of Texas.
Texas historical markers, including the 1936 Centennial markers, play an important role in preserving Texas’ history. Centennial markers have become significant works of public history and art throughout Texas. The THC monitors the 1936 markers and coordinates their repair and relocation when necessary. Restoration efforts for the markers are ongoing to address wear and damage caused by weather, vehicles, and vandals. Those interested in donating to these efforts can visit thcfriends.org for more information.