Just before 4:30 p.m., the re-installation of the damaged piece was completed while Janice Casteel, city manager of Cleveland, risk manager Kim Spence and even a descendant of William Steed, whose name is on the 125-year-old granite, looked on.
Baston is the owner of Baston Monument of Elberton, Ga.
His company was chosen to repair the 12-foot section of the Steed-Marshall-Hardwick monument which has been an icon in downtown Cleveland since 1890, when it was first dedicated in memory of Steed, William Marshall and John Hardwick, who died in a train crash in the community of Thaxton, Va., on July 2, 1889.
The monument stands in the intersections of present day 8th, Broad and Ocoee streets. The streets were known then as Pine and Lea Streets.
Ironically, the monument broke into three pieces when two cars collided in the intersection, sending one of the vehicles careening into the Cleveland icon.
Debbie Riggs’ book “The Day Cleveland Cried” noted the pedestal and obelisk, at one point in Cleveland history, just about divided the townspeople because J.H. Hardwick wanted to remove the memorial to his brother and the two others to the City Cemetery, now known as Fort Hill.
It led to lawsuits and even to the Tennessee Supreme Court before J.H. Hardwick dropped the case and the monument was re-erected after he had it taken down and laid to the side of the street.
Mike Wyllie, a great-great-great-great-nephew of William Steed, was at the site Thursday afternoon.
“The monument is like looking into the past where Cleveland was, and how we look into our future,” Wyllie said.
Casteel said the repair on the preservation project is expected to be approximately $5,000.
Baston suggested damage to the Confederate monument nearby also be repaired. It also suffered slight damage during the crash.
The United Daughters of the Confederacy at about the same time erected a monument dedicated to the Confederate States of America, and the Civil War dead.
“An iron fence around the monument was removed, then later, the memorial was completely dismantled and laid to the side of the roadway as construction of the Confederate monument was ongoing — thus resulting in the division of the community and the placement of the memorial marker,” said Riggs in her book.
Both monuments have stood at the intersection since 1913.
Coincidentally, the bayonet in the rifle held by the Confederate figure at the top of the Confederate monument suffered damage at the hand of vandals in the early 1900s and was repaired using a genuine bayonet.
Baston, a master stone cutter for over 16 years, was contacted by the city of Cleveland to make the repairs to the obelisk.
“The shaft weighs approximately 3,000 pounds, with the section below it weighing 665 pounds and the memorial stone weighing approximately 2,900 pounds,” said Baston.
Baston and Smith used a small crane to lift the granite.
The two men cleaned each section of debris utilizing a cutting blade to remove old mortar, then mixed a two-part epoxy cement to hold each stone in place. The first two stones were put in place and given an hour to set before the obelisk was placed atop.
By design, the two men took their time to complete the re-installation, leading to the quip about the time-consuming and tedious job.
Gravity and mortar hold the stones in place … no pins were used in the process of resetting. Baston did note, however, that during the repair process at his shop in Georgia, pins were placed to rejoin the obelisk. Next came the painstaking task of resetting and finishing the smaller pieces of broken granite that had been recovered at the scene of the crash site.
Baston also cleaned the obelisk to blend the repaired sections.
A re-dedication of the monument will be held Tuesday at 11 a.m., at the monument site.