CLOSE
Original image
Gary Knapp // Getty Images

Inside the Quest to Save 42 Giant Presidential Statues

Original image
Gary Knapp // Getty Images

In 2004, Presidents Park opened in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a huge open-air museum containing 42 two-story-high busts of the presidents to date at the time. Visitors could perambulate among the presidents, reading plaques about them. (Note: There are only 42 busts in total because of Grover Cleveland's two nonconsecutive terms.)

In 2013, local builder Howard Hankins was hired to remove and destroy the busts, after the attraction itself went bust. Hankins had another idea. He carefully transported all the busts to his family farm. This cleared the way for an Enterprise Rent-a-Car facility now located on the former grounds of Presidents Park. It also left him with 43 giant statues, many of them slightly damaged, to deal with.

Over the ensuing years, Hankins has walked among the busts, weeding the grounds and struggling to figure out what to do with these "giants of men." He loosely envisions a similar attraction, this time called The Presidential Experience. Ideally it would have a better location to attract tourists. But Hankins lacks the funding to make it a reality. Since the original haul, he has managed to secure a tiny template for an Obama bust, but couldn't afford to purchase the full-size version. No word yet on a Trump bust.

In the short film All the Presidents' Heads directed by Adam Roffman, we meet Hankins, see the busts, and learn about the possible second coming of a presidential roadside attraction. Enjoy:

Original image
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
arrow
founding fathers
You Can Now Read More Than 850 of Alexander Hamilton's Papers Online
Original image
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

When writing his hip-hop musical Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda wasn’t able to interview America’s first treasury secretary firsthand, as he died more than 210 years ago. Instead, he got inside the founding father’s head by combing through the hundreds of drafts and correspondences Hamilton left behind. Now, studying Hamilton’s massive body of work is as easy as logging on to your computer. As NPR reports, the Library of Congress just made 880 documents from its Hamilton collection available online.

The digital archive spans everything from correspondence Hamilton wrote as an adolescent living in St. Croix to the letter he wrote to his wife, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton, the night before his fatal duel with Aaron Burr. In between is the outline for a speech he gave at the Constitutional Convention, a letter from his days of courting Elizabeth, and communications with Revolutionary leaders including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the Marquis de Lafayette.

The Library of Congress’s collection of Hamilton documents would likely look much different if it weren't for the work of his widow. Following Alexander's death, Elizabeth embarked on a mission to secure her late husband's legacy by collecting his writings and getting them published. As Ron Chernow—author of the Hamilton biography the hit musical is based on—told Smithsonian last year, “Her efforts made it easier to research Alexander’s life, because after his death, his enemies were in power … Elizabeth was working against the political system of the time, and time itself.”

Thanks to the Library of Congress’s project, her work is more accessible than ever. The move to bring the collection to the web was partly inspired by the recent buzz surrounding the figure, but you don’t have to be familiar with Hamilton the musical to appreciate the historical writings. Visit the Library of Congress’s website to start exploring the archive.

[h/t NPR]

Original image
Hamilton Broadway
arrow
Food
A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
Original image
Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios