JEFFERSON, Ga. - A 100-year-old Confederate veterans' memorial was damaged Friday when a work crew was moving the monument as part of Jefferson's ongoing downtown renovation.
The memorial has sat in the median of Sycamore Street, or Georgia Highway 129, since 1911 when Jefferson's chapter of the Daughters of the Confederate Veterans donated the granite marker to the city.
Work crews were trying to the lift the 7-foot rectangular column that makes up the middle layer of the monument when one of the straps they were using to lift the block broke. The stone column fell to the ground, knocking a chip of granite free from one the lower corners, said Beth Laughinghouse, director of Main Street Jefferson and streetscape project manager.
"I think we'll probably just re-evaluate (whether we need to repair it) once we've put the monument back together," Laughinghouse. "It truly will not be noticeable from the ground, and we haven't began exploring what the options are in terms of repairing it."
The Georgia Department of Transportation, which is funding the downtown streetscape project, told city officials that the monument had to be moved to improve traffic flow downtown, she said.
The monument, which was constructed of four sections of carved solid granite, currently is sitting in pieces in a parking lot on the south side of Sycamore Street. Within the next week, crews will reassemble the monument just across Sycamore Street's westbound lane from its original site, making it one of the focal points of the town's public square.
"You couldn't even see the monument before," Laughinghouse said. "Now, you will be able to see the monument from all four sides, and you won't have to take your life in your hands to look at it."
A new Confederate veterans' monument, recently commissioned by Jefferson's chapter of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, will be placed near the 1911 monument in the public square.
The placement of the new and old Confederate monuments marks one of the last big tasks of the city's year-long streetscape project, which should be finished by the end of July.
Work crews should have the bulk of the work done in time for Jefferson's annual Freedom Festival on June 25, Laughinghouse said.