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43 Giant, Crumbling Presidential Heads

Howard Hankins has an unusual set of lawn ornaments on his farm in Virginia: 20-foot-tall busts of all 43 U.S. presidents. He salvaged them from a defunct theme park, as that was the only alternative to destroying them. Saving them cost Hankins around $50,000, since they weight between five ten tons each, but the process of moving them damaged the statues anyway.

Any hopes of preserving the presidents in their original state were literally crushed as the busts made their journey from park to field. Each bust had to be lifted from its base by a crane, cracking the sculpture’s neck to get the full piece off the ground. The crane attached to a steel frame inside the busts through a hole smashed into the top of each sculpture’s head. Then, each president was loaded onto a flatbed truck and hauled away to Hankins’ property.

Cracked skulls were just the beginning: The team improvised as they went along, and the earlier busts moved bore the brunt of the movers’ initial inexperience. The first few moved have broken noses, missing backsides and other structural issues. Abraham Lincoln's bust now has an eerie hole in the back of its head that brings to mind his tragic end, and Ronald Reagan's bust bears the scar of a lightning strike. They all now sit decaying in three neat lines on the farm (except for George Washington, who stands to the side overlooking the group), where they continue to crumble, peel and crack.

Read the story of how this bizarre field of crumbling presidents came to be at Smithsonian. And see more pictures by David Ogden at the Instagram page @abandonedearth. -via Metafilter


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