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An Unusual Presidential Monument

A private farm in Virginia is the site of a unique presidential monument. 

In Croaker, Virginia, a private farm hides a peculiar treasure. If you know about this gem, called Hankins Park, you can ask to visit the site. It contains decaying sculptures of the first 42 Presidents of the United States, from George Washington to George W. Bush.

A family friend told me about Hankins Park because of my interest in American history. I was able to tour the monument, which is near historic Williamsburg, in August 2020. I recently spoke with John Plashal, an author, photographer, and speaker in Virginia who arranged for my tour. 

The busts were created by acclaimed sculptor David Attickes and originally commissioned for Virginia’s President’s Park. The park closed in 2010, and these presidential heads, which are between 18 and 20 feet high, were set to be destroyed.

Howard Hankins, an industrial recycler, was hired to destroy the sculptures. “Rather than put them in his stone crusher,” Plashal explained, “Hankins salvaged them and moved them to his property, with the intention of repurposing them for future use.” 

During the process of moving these massive sculptures, many of the busts, which weigh more than 10,000 pounds, were damaged. Now, after years of sitting in a grassy field, the statues are decaying. But the site is still popular.

“It’s turned into a roadside attraction because of its bizarreness,” Plashal said. He added that many people want to see the sculptures before they completely disintegrate. Families also visit so that their children can learn more about history.


Logan (left) and his brother, Gavin, walk past the decaying bust of President George Washington during their visit to Hankins Park in 2020. 


Plashal’s book of photographs, A Beautifully Broken Virginia, shows how passionate he is about history. “Structures, like humans, are mortal,” he said. “They may not have a heartbeat, but they have a soul and harbor many stories that should transcend generations.”

Plashal encourages young people to learn more about the past. "It’s important,” he said, “to honor your elders through a commemoration and appreciation of the stories they endured.”

Plashal chronicles history in a blog and a podcast, “Time Capsule: Stories From an Abandoned & Forgotten America.”

Top photo courtesy of John Plashal; bottom photo courtesy of the author