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Statue Removed After 179 Years For Washington Monument Renovations

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—Talk to someone outside of Baltimore and they’ll probably tell you the Washington Monument is located in D.C. But we know the first monument to our first president is located downtown.

Mike Schuh reports George Washington was asked to move out before construction crews moved in.

The moving vans have arrived. Washington is on the move.

No, not the one at the top. But the one on the first floor.

“I think what’s really impressive is that he’s larger than life,” said Lance Humphries, Mt. Vernon Place Conservancy.

Heavier too. Carved from solid marble, Washington hasn’t moved in 179 years.

Why does he need to move?

“Well, he’s a very important artifact here, and we’d like to get him off site while all this massive construction is going on,” Humphries said.

For safety sake, his shoulders are cemented into place.

“We’re going to be using a high density plastic to slide him over onto the platform,” said Scott Pittman, Bonsai Fine Arts, Inc.

Moving a ton and a half, irreplaceable, breakable, marble statue brings anxiety and nerves.

“My biggest fear about this? It all needs to go carefully and smoothly and slowly so everything is fine,“ Humphries said.

They want to have a bust of marble, not little marbles.

The moment of truth comes when they try to bring the statue out of the niche and onto the platform.

After a half hour, burly men with a light touch free Washington.

“It’s great to get it off the pedestal, on to the platform and ready to go into the crate,” Humphries said.

He’s in good hands. This crew specializes in crating and moving all sorts of priceless art and artifacts.

Washington is only going a block away.

After 179 years, he needs a bath, a bit of a scrub behind the ears and a warm temporary home inside at the Walters. Then, a year and a half from now, once the $5 million renovation is complete, this process will be reversed. It’s expected to reopen on the Fourth of July 2015.

The cost of the restoration is $5 million.

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