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BENNINGTON — The Bennington Battle Monument is getting a facelift — the first step is a yearlong architectural study. On Wednesday, an industrial ropes specialty firm, Vertical Access, rappelled down the monument to get an up close and personal look at the condition of its exterior mortar and stones.

Previously, the team of engineers on the project had the monument laser scanned and transformed the findings into a set of drawings. James Duggan, the director of preservation at the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, said the people rappelling down have tablets with the drawings and are taking photos of each area of the monument. Those photos are then marked on the digital drawing for future reference.

At the site, there were two tents set up protecting the team on the ground and their equipment from the sun. A large computer screen sat on a table in the middle of a tent and showed images of the stone and mortar at the top of the monument. The people rappelling were wearing body cameras to record each and every detail of the segments of stone and mortar.

“We’re really trying to get down to that granular level,” said Duggan. The engineers also used walkie talkies to communicate with their counterparts 200 feet above them.

The goal is to have a detailed record of the existing condition.

“We know we’ve got issues, and we’re studying the [monument] to try and understand what are some of the factors contributing to the deterioration of spots and what kind of condition it is in overall,” Duggan said.

He said the architectural study will take at least a year to complete. It started in the fall of last year, and the team will continue to monitor the conditions of the monument until this fall. The weather in the area can change in a short amount of time, and the monument has a high exposure to the elements.

“We’re trying to understand what happens through all the seasons,” said Duggan.

The monument’s construction began in 1887, and Benjamin Harwood, from Stevens & Associates, said it hasn’t been worked on since 1990 when the mortar needed to be redone and cracks repaired.

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The bricks are limestone, but the inside of the structure looks different from the outside. Instead of horizontal lines, the interior stone looks like “if you’re working in an old basement,” Harwood said.

Two different types of mortar are also used on the monument. In an effort to restore the monument appropriately, the restoration team will do its best to replicate the way it was built, while still keeping the structure sound. “We’re figuring out what’s appropriate,” Hardwood said.

“We’re taking this year to really study and understand the monument. It’s such a unique structure,” said Duggan.

While some people were rappelling down the outside, other important work was being done inside. Testing equipment, like crack monitors and thermostats, are now installed to track interior conditions.

“We’re using a lot of emerging technology in this analysis,” Duggan said. The approach to the project is progressive, but it has to be for the project to succeed.

Moisture is an ever-present enemy of the monument. Duggan said the cracks that already exist allow water to penetrate the stone. The freeze and thaw cycles of the area will exacerbate the cracks.

“Historically, we’ve had issues with moisture inside the building. So, that’s what we’re trying to correct,” he said.

Duggan said they had over a dozen proposals for this project, but Stevens & Associates, based in Brattleboro, was a “clear choice” because of its experience with historic buildings. They are the prime consultants on the project and were hired by the state.