Establishing a lasting memory with Texas limestone

October 1, 2004
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Expressing strong feelings of pride and sentiment for those soldiers who lost their lives fighting in battle, the community of Lubbock, TX, united to build a testament to their honor. Led by the efforts of the American Legion George S. Berry Post 575 and Auxiliary, the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial became a reality and was unveiled on December 7, 2003 -- the day of remembrance for the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Built of local Texas limestone, the memorial stands in the Henry Huneke Park as a symbol of strength and integrity.

“It was always brought up that we should do some kind of memorial,” said Denver Blanscett, the five-term past commander of the American Legion George S. Berry Post 575 and Auxiliary, and director of the project. “I took it upon myself and went to the Parks and Recreation director. He proposed a memorial park. It was at the same time that Civic Lubbock Inc. was doing a Freedom Fountain, and he said it would be perfect. I brought the idea back to the Board, and it was approved.”

The sole function of the memorial is to commemorate veterans from the South Plains who were killed in action during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War and the Persian Gulf War. In all, the landmark dedication encompasses 18 counties around Lubbock.

Blanscett researched ways to fund the project, which would cost $2.1 million. It was decided that the memorial would include a wall of personalized bricks with the names of donators, which would be displayed next to the list of South Plains residents who made the ultimate sacrifice in the wars of the last century. On each brick are four lines of 5⁄8-inch lettering.

“The whole purpose is to remember those killed in action,” said Blanscett. “I did research to find out how much to charge. We decided on $125. We've sold 17,000 bricks already, and there are still 4,000 bricks available. We'll finish up in about six months.”

Designing the project

The creation of the Lubbock Area Veterans Memorial is due in part to the work of James Dirks of Cox-Dirks Architects, P.C. “More or less, Jimmy [Dirks] and his draftsman came up with the design,” said Blanscett, adding that Dirks offered his services free of charge. “We told him our concept -- a memorial with the center portion to commemorate the loss of life.”

The memorial is comprised of three sections. Dirks granted the wishes of the Board of the American Legion, and designed a center portion for commemoration. On either side of this section there is an area honoring living and deceased members of the U.S. Armed Forces. The final section is reserved for the bricks with the names of the citizens who showed their support.

“We played with conceptual ideas,” said Dirks. “We had to determine how to make it a pleasing experience. The memorial is entered in a semi-circle passing donor bricks and numerous patriotic quotations. The visitors then come into a more intimate enclosed space of the memorial surrounding the Commemorative Wall and Victory Circle. The memorial plan was developed into a circle. The center has an American flag and Victory Circle; all points radiate from the center with radiating beams of limestone.” Next to the American flag also stand the flag of Texas and the Veterans' flag, and below it is an inlaid star made of limestone.

The architect explained that initially the first concept included about a third of a circle, but it was expanded because of the overwhelming response of people who wanted to buy bricks. “We had the brick on the interior section,” said Dirks. “We sloped the exterior walls at an angle to help pull this wall out of the ground and put brick on those walls as well. We also added a low wall around the perimeter for donor bricks.”

According to Dirks, stone was used as a focal point of the design, and it was supplied by TexaStone Quarries of Garden City, TX. “We thought that it would be either limestone or granite,” he said. “We were looking for something in this vicinity. [TexaStone Quarries] had a limestone that was very hard. We could shape it.” The limestone was complemented by black granite from Africa, which was used to make panels with inscriptions of the names of soldiers who lost their lives.

Building with limestone

It was decided that the memorial would be built of Permian Sea Coral limestone, quarried in Texas. “We went to the quarry to view stone samples in the beginning,” said Dirks. Although porosity is often a maintenance concern with limestone, it was not in this case because the stone is known for its hardness, according to the architect.

At the main entrance, 15 panels were honed and laid out to form the field where “Lubbock Area Veterans War Memorial” was sandblasted into the stone. “Each panel had to match perfectly in order for the wording to be placed correctly,” said Brenda Edwards of TexaStone Quarries.

For the memorial's four main square columns, the limestone was given a splitface finish. The columns each have a panel which was sandblasted with famous quotes. The quotes were then painted to standout, according to Edwards.

“People were allowed to purchase panels in memory of or in honor of someone dear to them,” she said. “Each of these panels were sandblasted with an inscription and then painted. These were the larger of the memorial panels, and they were placed throughout the area.”

At the sentry lampposts, Permian Sea Coral limestone was used as polished panels with false joints in a bollard or pyramid style, and turned columns support the radius colonnade. Additionally, Permian Sea Coral pilasters accent the memorial wall.

The dedication

Originally, the dedication for the memorial was scheduled for November 11, 2003 -- Veterans Day. Unfortunately, the project was delayed due to a shipping problem with the imported black granite.

“The only difficulties we ran into was with the granite,” said Dirks. “We didn't get it in time for the first opening time. It got held on the docks and couldn't get through Customs.”

Eventually, the granite did clear Customs and the dedication took place on December 7, 2003, which was Pearl Harbor Day. “Over 20,000 people showed up for the dedication,” said Blanscett. “If we can do something like this in Lubbock -- a town of 250,000 people -- every city should be able to do it.” For those

who wish to support the memorial, information regarding purchasing a personalized brick can be obtained at www.lubbockwarmemorial.com.

End Box

Lubbock Area Veterans War Memorial
Lubbock, TX
Architect: Cox-Dirks Architects, P.C.
Project Coordinator: American Legion George S. Berry Post 575 and Auxiliary, Lubbock, TX
General Contractor: Pharr & Company, Lubbock, TX
Sub-Contractor: W & W Steel Co., Lubbock, TX
Stone Quarrier/Fabricator: TexaStone Quarries, Garden City, TX
Stone Installer: D & L Masonry, Lubbock, TX

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