Q. David Bowers
"Mr. Borglum agreed to complete the seven figures of the Central Group in three years for $250,000. Mr. Lukeman has completed only the bust of General Lee, at a cost of $1,421,665 to the Association, inclusive of unpaid indebtedness. These are facts and can be proven if the Association will produce the audit of March 31, 1928. The Association has spent $ 506, 720.51 for salaries, travelling expenses, publicity ... and $129,071.41 for commissions, entertainment, attorney fees, gifts and campaigning, and yet this money was contributed by the public to be used in carving on the mountain. The audit of March 31, 1928 will show that Mr. Randolph, as president of the Association, spent in three years $18,788.51 as travelling expenses, although, as counsel of a railroad company, he had during this time a pocket full of free passes."
Stone Mountain in Later Years
As noted, work on the Stone Mountain Memorial continued under Lukeman until lack of funds forced suspension of the project in 1928, after which time for all intents the incomplete Memorial project was dead. Lukeman died in 1935.
Despite all of the problems associated with the Stone Mountain Memorial project, Gutzon Borglum indicated his willingness to go back. The following is an excerpt from an undated letter of the late 1920s from Borglum to his former secretary, Lillian Taylor:
"I suppose you know the Georgia Legislature by a vote in the Senate of 22-6 charged Randolph and his gang with gross misuse of funds since March 1925, which was immediately following our departure .... Randolph has been thoroughly whipped and admits publicly [his] defeat and utter inability to carry on the work. The South will never have any great memorials now. The Atlanta crowd has made that ridiculous and impossible. America can never be called upon again to help them in national aid. But in spite of all that, I would go back tomorrow if the whole thing was abandoned, and pick up the old tools and start all over again. I want the South to have a great monument to its great men and women."
In the 1930s several articles appeared in Atlanta newspapers calling for the return of Borglum. A typical one, titled "Bring Back Borglum," appeared in the Atlanta Constitution and informed readers that the famous sculptor, now busy with carving four presidential portraits on Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, should be hired once again. The Atlanta Journal stated that the mayor-elect of Atlanta, James L. Key, had personally asked Borglum to return to Stone Mountain to survey the site to see what could be done. By now Borglum was a folk hero to just about everyone in the Atlanta area. His nemesis, Hollins N. Randolph, had been thoroughly discredited and had slipped from public view.
The Stone Mountain people subsequently made peace with Borglum, and he agreed to return to Georgia to continue work on the project. However, little was done.
Collier's magazine, December 19, 1931, discussed the Stone Mountain Memorial and its history: "There were rows, of course. Trouble always dogs monumental work. Borglum quit, someone else was hired. Later, the somebody else got out and Borglum, who had busied himself with the other colossus on Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, was called back, dictated his terms-now the work goes on. When completed, Stone Mountain will be the largest sculpture the world has ever known, and Mount Rushmore will be the second largest with its amazing head of Washington gazing across the continent."
Borglum passed away in 1941, by which time he had completed Mount Rushmore but before serious work could be resumed at Stone Mountain. In the same year it was announced that the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, a government agency set up by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Depression, would put up a loan of $1,250,000 to complete the sculptures on Stone Mountain and that Julian Harris would supervise the project. "In addition to the figures of those great leaders of the Confederacy, Captain Harris plans to include a foot soldier beside them as a tribute to the thousands who fought and died for their cause without attaining fame-the 'unknown soldier' of the Confederacy." (From an unattributed article preserved by Lillian Taylor.) Harris planned to use a low relief method of carving similar to that used in Egypt, rather than the deep carving once envisioned by Borglum. Nothing happened.
In 1958 the Georgia Legislature funded the purchase of Stone Mountain and 3,200 acres of adjacent land, the ownership of which had reverted to the Venable family in 1928. In 1963 the state selected Walker Kirkland Hancock, a Gloucester, Massachusetts sculptor, to develop plans for continuing the carving project as a scaled-down version of Lukeman's concept. Work was eventually done with a small crew under the supervision of Roy Faulkner, a local craftsman who displayed great skill. This time the carving was done by a thermo jet torch which operated at temperatures up to 4000Â° and which blasted away the granite by heating it so quickly that the rock expanded and flaked off. One man with such a device could do more in a single day than a crew of 48 could do in a week under the old system of blasting. (Georgia's Stone Mountain, by Willard Neal, p. 10.)
The finished carving, consisting of Lee, Davis, and Jackson, measures 90 feet high by 190 feet wide, is in relief extending 11 and one-half feet from the matrix, and is approximately 400 feet above the base of the mountain. Formal dedication took place on May 9, 1970. Later a reflection pool at the base of the mountain was completed as was a convention center. Nothing was ever done toward the carving of the Amphitheater or the Memorial Hall. Although the carvings are just a small version of the epic sculptures Gutzon Borglum had envisioned years earlier, the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial, as it is now called, is quite impressive to visitors and is the state's largest tourist attraction. The figures of Lee and Jackson and their horses on the present memorial bear only a superficial resemblance to Borglum's design as shown on the 1925 Stone Mountain Memorial half dollar.
The apotheosis of Gutzon Borglum may have occurred at Mount Rushmore, where his memory is honored; but at Stone Mountain no such glory exists, for on view is the Lukeman-Hancock-Faulkner work, with no trace of Borglum's artistry. Still a guidebook sold to visitors, Georgia's Stone Mountain, describes the sculptor's early work and acknowledges that Borglum "made a vital contribution," for "it is doubtful if any artist would have had the imagination to visualize such a stupendous monument in such an inaccessible place, or have had the nerve to start carving it. And he accomplished one thing that lasts. He designed the Confederate [sic] half dollar." Completely overlooking the scandal perpetrated by Hollins N. Randolph and the vindication of Borglum by the Georgia legislature and others and possibly unaware of the "bring back Borglum" campaign waged by local citizens in the late 1920s, the brochure lays the blame on the artist by stating: "Personality rifts between Borglum and members of the Association widened, and in March 1925 the sculptor destroyed his models and sketches, and left Georgia. Other artists said the real reason for his tantrums was distortion in the carving-he never could have finished it, and he was trying to hide the blame. Taking a short cut in projecting his sketch onto the mountain had been a fatal mistake. He went to South Dakota and gained lasting fame by carving the Mount Rushmore masterpiece."