The near century-old Maryhill Stonehenge has earned its place on the National Register of Historic Places.
The creative work of explorer and famed Pacific Northwest advocate Samuel Hill, the replica of the ancient, Neolithic structure stands today as a memorial to those who have made the greatest sacrifice defending our nation. The Stonehenge Memorial & Klickitat County Veterans Memorial is dedicated to more than a dozen Klickitat County residents who died in World War I.
The men honored at Stonehenge are James Henry Allyn, Charles Auer, Dewey V. Bromley, John W. Cheshier, William O. Clary, Evan Childs, James D. Duncan, Harry Gotfredson, Robert F. Graham, Louis Leidl, Carl A. Lester, Edward Lindblad, Henry O. Piendl and Robert F. Venable.
Sited atop Maryhill near Goldendale and overlooking the Columbia River Gorge, the area is “very sacred to the veterans of the area, to the families... and people love going there for the fantastic views,” said Colleen Schafroth, executive director of the Maryhill Museum of Art, which operates and owns the memorial.
According to Schafroth, Hill was a lifelong Quaker and pacifist who funded the monument, intending it to serve as a memorial to the victims of war.
Stonehenge’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places “recognizes the importance of a memorial to all of us in the region and in the country,” Schafroth said.
The process to seek award of the placement began a earlier this year. Architectural Resources Group, based in Portland, conducted the nomination process, which included surveying the area, researching its history, and writing a nomination letter. “They really did a fantastic job of putting it all together,” Schafroth said.
According to the nomination, the design was based on the original Stonehenge in England, which Hill had visited. There, he learned that the ancient site was used as a place of human sacrifice, although that line of thought has been rejected by many historians.
According to the museum’s nomination letter, “Hill’s understanding of Stonehenge as site of human sacrifice led him to use the ancient monument as a model for the World War I memorial that he would later construct at Maryhill. Hill drew a parallel between ancient human sacrifice for the appeasement of pagan deities (as he understood Stonehenge to symbolize) and what he believed to be an equally pointless and cruel loss of life caused by the contemporary war in Europe.”
The Stonehenge Memorial was dedicated in 1918. Instead of stone, like the original was made out of, Hill used concrete.
In the decades that passed, Schafroth said there has been some delamination of the concrete — a fracturing of the material — that is to be expected from the heavy winds, along with some extreme temperature changes. But with the monument’s placement on the National Register of Historic Places, the Maryhill Museum of Art will soon be looking into grants that will help to fund the maintenance and repairs of the site.
Schafroth said the museum is looking at the best method to preserve the site, and by next spring will begin raising money to support the site’s conservation.
“If anybody wants to talk to me about that or supporting this work I’d be happy to talk with them,” Schafroth said.
The monument remains to this day the site of annual Veterans Day memorial services.