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Race to Save Baltimore's Washington Monument Before Bicentennial

Updated: Tuesday, October 8 2013, 07:55 PM EDT

As Baltimore's Washington Monument prepares for its bicentennial birthday, the race is on to save this decaying national treasure.

The Baltimore City landmark was the first civic memorial to George Washington in the United States and was started on July 4, 1815.

"They were very proud when they laid the cornerstone in 1815," Historian Lance Humphries said. "They had a special role in winning the war and now they were dedicating this first monument to Washington. It gave them a special privilege and honor."

Humphries is now part of a crusade to restore the monument, which has been closed since 2010. Estimated repair costs ring in at $5 million.

"It's not going to collapse tomorrow but it is just on this slow decline that every little bit of water makes it worse and worse and more expensive to fix ," Humphries explained.

The marble for the statue came from Baltimore County quarries. The statue at the top weighs almost 14 tons.  The Mount Vernon Place Conservancy is the non-profit leading the effort to restore the monument and is still hoping to raise the $5 million before starting the renovations, in order to complete the project before July 4, 2015.

Race to Save Baltimore's Washington Monument Before Bicentennial

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Washington Times