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Saving Statues: Meet The Local Monuments Men

In the Lower Garden District, you’ll find the first statue built to honor a woman in the history of our nation.  It’s dedicated to Margaret Haughery.  In the 1800’s, she devoted her life to caring for the poor and hungry and built orphanages in New Orleans.  Over a century later, Twist reporter Deepak Saini introduces you to a group of good Samaritans who are giving the statue some major T-L-C.

For 130 years, a historical statue has weathered the test of time.

“I like to think of her as the Mother Teresa of New Orleans,” says Monumental Task Committee, Inc. President Pierre McGraw.

Margaret Haughery, immortalized in marble, has sat in the same spot since 1884.  Although everything around Margaret and the little orphan by her side has changed, one thing that’s stayed the same, is her legacy.

“Soon after she arrived from Ireland she dedicated the rest of her life to helping orphans and all the orphanages around town,” says McGraw.

Now some Good Samaritans are coming to her aide.  We’d like to call them “Monuments Men.”

McGraw laughs, “Sure, you get a reputation for doing this.”

But the group is actually called the Monumental Task Committee.  For 25 years, they’ve been preserving and restoring historic monuments throughout New Orleans.

“This Margaret project is one of the largest we’ve ever undertaken and it’s going to cost us about $100,000.  The marble is weathering considerably and its turning into a sugaring effect so we’re going to have to rust that action and remove a lot of the algae,” says McGraw.

The statue is also missing a finger but the first order or business is fixing the foundation.  The brick is original so the folks at Abry Brothers, Inc., who specialize in dealing with historic material, are volunteering their time.

“Those foundations, bricks are soft and are prone to settling.  It’s a foundation no one would design or a build a monument on today,” says Greg Abry.

A foundation as rare as the woman above it.

“She’s really a remarkable person.  And this monument is dedicated to one of New Orleans’ favorite daughters for sure,” says McGraw.

The Monumental Task Committee relies on grants and donations from people like you to take care of the city’s precious monuments.  They’re looking for volunteers to help them with monuments at Duncan Plaza this weekend.

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