CROAKER, Va. -- They were supposed to be an attraction that drew history buffs and Williamsburg tourists to Presidents Park near Water Country USA. But, the giant busts that depicted the presidents of the United States never did draw the crowds that their creators (and investors) had hoped.
That is one reason why, in 2010, the Presidents Park closed six years after it opened.
But what would become of the giant heads of Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, Reagan and the others? They ended up sitting in a field in nearby Croaker, Virginia.
President's busts from the (closed) Presidents Park in Williamsburg. Currently located on a private farm. These sculptures stand about fifteen to twenty feet tall and are being preserved by Williamsburg's Howard Hankins. If you're interested in helping support their restoration please visit the Williamsburg Presidential Museum Project at https://m.facebook.com/presidentsinwilliamsburg/ Photograph by © @abandonedearth 2016 #AbandonedEarth
Instead of watching the presidential busts go boom, construction company owner Howard Hankins convinced their owners to let him move the heads, of the former heads of state, to his land. The process was recently detailed in a Smithsonian Magazine article.
20' tall Presidents busts from the old Presidents Park in Virginia. "It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors." -George Washington "What students would learn in American schools above all is the religion of Jesus Christ." -George Washington Photograph by © @abandonedearth
There the busts sit as money is raised in an effort to once again make the heads the centerpiece of a Virginia tourist attraction.
"We are currently raising money for a new Presidential Museum and Park in Williamsburg. This museum will create a total experience of the many facets of the US Presidents, their lives, daily operations, history and more," the Williamsburg Presidential Museum Project posted on Facebook. "This project will benefit Williamsburg, the state of Va and the people that visit. Plans include a new facility with exhibits featuring an Oval office, Presidential transportation, The White House, First ladies, a secret service and covert ops area and other Presidential documents and memorabilia."
"The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party - and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose." -Abraham Lincoln President Abraham Lincoln’s bust from the (closed) Presidents Park in Williamsburg. Sculpted by artist David Adickes, weighs from 7,500 to 9,000 pounds. Learn about the Williamsburg Presidential Museum Project at www.facebook.com/presidentsinwilliamsburg/ Photograph by © @abandonedearth
President busts from the closed Presidents Park in Virginia. They stand fifteen to twenty feet in height and are being preserved by Williamsburg's Howard Hankins. For more information please visit the Williamsburg Presidential Museum Project at https://m.facebook.com/presidentsinwilliamsburg/ or see link in bio. Photograph by © @abandonedearth 2016 #AbandonedEarth
The Facebook post also detailed some of the history behind the park.
It started in 2004 when Hankins built The Presidents Park for Haley Newman across from Water Country USA in Williamsburg. The park failed in 2010 and Hankins was contracted to remove and dispose of the 20 ft presidential busts. He saved them and many other items from the park instead of destroying them.
“When I left Springfield, I asked the people to pray for me, I was not a Christian. When I came to Washington, I was not a Christian. When my beloved son Willie died, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg, and there looked over those thousands of white crosses, I then and there consecrated my heart to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus.” -Abraham Lincoln. Photograph ©@abandonedearth On Assignment #JesusChrist
Photographer David Ogden took the photos of the presidential busts for his abandonedearth Instagram account.
"[The thing that] really stood out was just how alive they felt when I first saw them," Ogden said. "Another was being among them at night was actually the opposite of spooky, there was this peace to them all."
The heads are on private property and not part of an active tourist attraction.