Presidents Park opened in March of 2004 in Williamsburg, Virginia. The park was an open-air museum where visitors could walk among the 18-foot-tall president head statues. The busts were built of concrete and showcased the first 43 Presidents of the United States, from Washington to George W. Bush. The park was the brainchild of local landowner Everette “Haley” Newman and Houston sculptor David Adickes who said he was inspired to create the statues after passing by Mount Rushmore.
Presidents Park, which cost about $10 million to create, closed in 2010 due to a lack of visitors. Surrounded by controversy for several years, many thought it would take tourists from the other local attractions like Colonial Williamsburg, Yorktown, and Jamestown. Several Williamsburg city officials spoke out against Presidents Park, referring to it as “tacky” and a “sideshow.” Park owners disagreed and thought the park was a way to teach children about history and sculptures. Presidents Park permanently closed on September 30, 2010. Two years after closing, creditors put the property up for an auction; minus the statues.
When the park went into foreclosure, instead of destroying the busts, all 43 statues were moved to a 400-acre farm in rural Virginia. To move the statues was no easy task. Each statue weighs between 11,000 and 20,000 pounds. Moving the statues from the park to the farm was a weeklong process and cost roughly $50,000. Several were damaged during transport, including the back of Abraham Lincoln’s head. The crane would attach to a steel frame inside of the top of the bust. Each one had to be lifted from its base by a crane, often cracking the statue’s neck to get the piece off the ground. The first few busts moved had broken noses and other structural issues. Today, the remnants of Presidents Park continue to crumble, peel and crack. The current owner of the statues hopes to one day restore them and once again put them on display.