Abandoned Presidential Heads

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Williamsburg, Virginia is a history nerd’s dream with so many sites and trails to follow.  Most abandoned sites in Williamsburg have been assigned a public status and there are so many that are abandoned and forgotten.  I found a site that I wanted to explore at Hankins Farm.  Imagine a grounded Mount Rushmore.  A field where there are 42 20-foot tall presidential busts silently staring into the horizon.  That’s Washington to Clinton immortalized by David Adickes sitting in a field.  The preservation efforts are documented on “All the President’s Heads”.  The documentary can be found here :  https://youtu.be/iJKZtlnVIRw

 

The history of these busts is interesting.  They once resided at Presidents Park next to the Presidential Pet Museum in Williamsburg.  The Presidents Park closed when the location was sold.  The park went into foreclosure due to lack of visitors which was caused by a poor location.  The busts were set to be demolished but instead they were rescued.  Howard Hankins, who helped build the park, secured the sculptures, transported them to his farm for safekeeping and is keeping them until a new location can be secured.  The moving process cracked the necks and smashed a hole into the top of the busts’ head.  Even though the site is open to the public because Hankin’s does not have a tourist attraction license, it is open during special events.  The site has security and surveillance equipment in the form of cameras.

 

I called to get some information since the site is on private party and there was construction at the old entrance which has as a location sign making the site as “Hampton Roads Materials”.  There is a phone number that connects to Hankins Farm site.  He explained that there is limited access to the site since the statues are caving in I was directed to the www.johnplashalpjoto.com for details on upcoming events but there are no other times for visitors.  He mentioned that there was an event on the Saturday was heading back home, so unfortunately this was a bust.  These events are part of “Day of Virginia’s Abandoned and Forgotten” event hosted with stories told by Virginia’s premiere “abandoned” photographers and John PlashaI.  I checked the website and there are events coming up on August 28th and October 23rd and 24th.  Some of the events are for photo shoots and light painting.  Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

 

For more information email “thepresidentsheads@gmail.com”

 

Citations:

Atlas Obscura Website

John Plashal Photo Website

Presidential Pet Museum Website

Smithsonian:  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/what-43-decaying-president-heads-looks-180958129/


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