Gateway Arch included in list of at-risk sites

The monument has fallen victim to staining and corrosion.

The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, better known as the Gateway Arch, has found itself on the 2014 World Monuments Watch List, along with 66 other sites across the globe.

The World Monuments Fund creates the list every two years. The organization is dedicated to saving important monuments and sites around the world.

The Arch is listed as currently being “affected by encroaching corrosion,” according to the 2014 World Monuments Watch news release.

The welds that hold the stainless steel faceplates of the Arch together and bind them to the back structure cause the corrosion. However, the fear is that it might be more than a problem of staining, and that the corrosion, if left unchecked, might have an effect on the structure of the arch, said Frank Sanchis, United States Programs Director at the World Monuments Fund.

“There is a concern that the nature of the staining … could actually begin to have an effect on the structure of the Arch,” Sanchis said.

There is currently no solution to prevent corrosion, but that is what the study will determine, Sanchis said.

“When they develop a treatment, both to stop the corrosion and prevent it from happening any further, which hopefully they will develop, then they’ll do something to get rid of the staining and prevent the corrosion from reoccurring,” Sanchis said.

In order to find a solution, however, samples must be taken, Sanchis said.

The “unusual shape and extreme height” propose a unique challenge, according to the news release.

“There is a trapdoor up at the top, and somebody’s going to have to go out that, and then with a series of ropes or whatever, reach the sites where they want to take the samples, and take them,” Sanchis said.

The 2014 Watch List serves as a call to action to bring the fragility of the 67 sites to international attention. This attention serves as a leveraging point for local entities to raise funds, including for the preservation of the Arch, according to the news release,.

In the nomination of the Arch, it was estimated that $300,000 needed to be raised, Sanchis said.

“They have identified half of it, from other sources, and they were looking for us to come up with the other half, so that’s about $150,000,” Sanchis said. “So we want to partner with them on this effort to reach out. All of the funds that we find are privately raised by us.”

The World Monuments Fund approached the Arch staff almost two years ago about putting the Arch on its Watch List, said Tom Bradley, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial superintendent.

After that, they prepared the nomination by studying a report about the inside of the Arch, which earned a clean bill of health, Bradley said.

“Anything we could do from inside the Arch, we’ve done,” Bradley said.

The report about the inner-structure of the Arch was phase one of a three-phase plan. Phase two is to put someone on the outside of the Arch to get samples, and that is where the World Monuments Fund will step in to help, Bradley said .

Phase three will be a possible cleaning of the Arch, Bradley said.

“Phase two will tell us what we need to do for phase three, anywhere from nothing, to the other extreme, scaffold the whole arch and clean it,” Bradley said. “We don’t know what we’re dealing with on the outside.”

Phase two of the renovation plan isn’t expected until about a year from now, in October 2014, at the earliest and that an actual cleaning of the Arch would be at a date further in the future, Bradley said.

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