Old Man of the Mountain Memorial Design Unveiled

By AlpineZone News |
Feb 13 2007 - 02:07 PM

CONCORD, New Hampshire — Featuring the heaviest stone ever quarried in North America, the vision of a much anticipated memorial commemorating the Old Man of the Mountain was announced today at the New Hampshire State Library.

The Old Man of the Mountain memorial design, the work of sculptor Shelly Bradbury and designer Ron Magers of Essex, Massachusetts, has three distinct features arranged along the pathway from the existing Old Man of the Mountain museum, near the base of Cannon Mountain to the shore of Profile Lake. Visitors will first walk through two standing stones which create a gateway to the memorial area and are designed to honor the caretakers of the Old Man. They will then encounter a series of five huge stones which, viewed from a raised viewing platform, merge into one form that recreates the outline of the famous profile. Finally, in a newly landscaped park at the water’s edge, steel “profilers” will allow visitors to line up a series of irregular edges and thereby “see” the outline of the famous profile up on the cliff where the Old Man once stood.

“This design reflects the natural ruggedness and beauty of the notch, and captures the awe-inspiring qualities and elusive imagery of the Great Stone Face,” said Maura Weston, Chair of the Legacy Fund, a committee established to raise the funds necessary to implement the ideas generated by the Old Man of the Mountain Task Force after the fall of the Old Man in May 2003. “It respects the integrity and historical significance of the Old Man of the Mountain at the same time that it creates a wonderful new attraction for future generations.”

Also announced at the press conference was an agreement between the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund and the New Hampshire Department of Parks and Recreation, providing for the non-profit Legacy Fund to raise money for and oversee the construction and installation of a memorial, and for Parks to become the eventual owner of the piece.

“We are thrilled to join with the Legacy Fund to ensure that the Old Man sculpture will be enjoyed by residents and visitors for many years to come,” said New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Commissioner George Bald. “The Old Man is a national treasure and we salute the hard work of the Legacy Fund and the designers for developing a plan which will allow for the construction of such a magnificent structure.”

Bradbury and Magers winning design draws its inspiration from the original natural formation. The row of five massive granite monoliths represents the five major slabs of granite that formed the Old Man. The largest stone, which will originate from Swenson Granite’s Rock of Ages Quarry, will be half the size the original face at about 20′ in height and weighing nearly 120 tons. It will set a new record as the largest single stone ever quarried in North America.

The Legacy Fund is working with the Swenson family of Concord to contract for these stones. According to Kurt Swenson, the five monoliths will come from a quarry owned by Rock of Ages’ Corporation in Barre, VT, a company affiliated with Swenson Granite in Concord.

“No other quarry in North America can produce blocks of this size. The balance of the other granite for the project will come from the Swenson Quarry in Concord,” Swenson said.

“Swenson Granite is delighted to be a part of this exciting and historic project. We look forward to working with the Legacy Fund to feature New Hampshire granite and the largest single stone ever quarried in North America as part of this memorial,” said Kurt Swenson of Swenson Granite Company of Concord, NH.

The entrance gateway will pay tribute to the volunteer caretakers who labored to secure the Old Man in place against the inevitable forces of gravity and erosion ??”Edward Geddes, Niels Nielsen, David Nielsen and others. The upright granite stones of the gateway will be held in place by cables and turnbuckles that replicate the ones which held the uppermost rocks of the Old Man in place from as far back as the 1920’s.

The final element in the monument’s design will mark the destination point of the ?? mile path from the existing Old Man of the Mountain Museum to the shore of Profile Lake. Tall, cannon-like sculptures of differing heights will accommodate multiple observers both young and old, and allow viewers to sight along their top edges and visually restore the outline of the Profile to the distant cliff, at the same size and scale as the original Old Man. These “profilers” will be set within a plaza of granite pavers enclosed by a natural garden that replaces the existing large open paved plaza. Benches will be strategically placed for visitors to sit and enjoy the lakeside and mountain views of the Notch and State Park.

“This is truly a magnificent design which will create new memories for young people who’ve never experienced the Old Man while bringing back pleasant old memories for those who’ve made Franconia Notch a regular visit,” said New Hampshire Department of Cultural Resources Commissioner Van McLeod. “You can’t help but be impressed by the vision for the Old Man’s future.”

Bradbury and Magers were chosen from over 40 applicants in a process that began nearly a year ago. A distinguished jury that included artists and prominent citizens from across the state reviewed all designs, and selected three finalists that were announced last May. Designs were further developed over the summer, and presented to the Legacy Fund and jury members in mid-October at an on-site meeting at Franconia Notch State Park.

“All of the artists created thoughtful and evocative designs, but Bradbury and Magers really captured the essence of the place and the Old Man viewing experience for us,” noted Dick Hamilton, one of the jury members. “The decision was unanimous.”

Maura Weston of Concord is chair of the Legacy Fund, a committee that succeeded the Old Man of the Mountain Revitalization Task Force appointed by former Governor Craig Benson immediately following the May 3, 2003 collapse of the Old Man. The Legacy Fund is a private 501c3 corporation with representatives from various state agencies, the Forest Society, the Greater Federated Women’s Club of NH, and the Cannon Mountain Advisory Committee.