Thomas Jefferson grave marker to make its way to the Smithsonian

Nov 30, 2012

For years, a marble plaque that was originally part of Thomas Jefferson’s gravestone was tucked away in the attic of Jesse Hall. Now, after years of efforts, the Smithsonian Institute has agreed to restore the marker, under the condition that arrangements are made to transport it to Washington, D.C., where it will undergo restoration.

Kee Groshong is a former Vice-Chancellor of Administrative Services at MU, and helped lead the restoration effort. He says the marker was originally designed by Jefferson before his death, and represents his true wishes.

"It’s just a very interesting part of American history that we happen to have here at MU, and I think it’s worth preserving and displaying, so other people could enjoy it. Because it is interesting, I mean, it’s part of history. We’re lucky to have it," said Groshong.

Marianne Marti is a sculpture conservator and President of Russel-Marti Conservation Services, Inc. She also inspected the marker, as it sat atop a cart in KBIA's sales office.

"It’s in relatively poor condition at this point, because of the broken areas of stone, and the friable areas. By friable, we mean sugary areas where the stone is falling apart," said Marti.

Despite the condition, she says the marker could withstand shipment to the Smithsonian. Following restoration, it’s expected that the plaque will be displayed on the first floor of Jesse Hall.