All the Presidents’ Heads

Tucked away on the back roads of Croaker, Virginia is an Easter Island of American history. For the first time ever, several remnants from the original tourist attraction that was open from 2004-2010 will be on display as accompaniments to the 42 decaying sculptures that have now fallen into a significant state of disrepair. The mementos that will be on display include several of the original placards, park signage, flags, gift shop items, authentic First Lady dresses and much more.
Heads No Answers

Can you name all the Presidents’ Heads? / Photos: John Plashal / Answers below


For the first time ever, several remnants from the original tourist attraction that was open from 2004-2010 will be on display as accompaniments to the 42 decaying sculptures that have now fallen into a significant state of disrepair. The mementos that will be on display include several of the original placards, park signage, flags, gift shop items, authentic First Lady dresses and much more.

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BJ’s nose is missing. So is George W. Bush’s. If you look closely at Ronald Reagan, you’ll see tendrils of carbon where he was struck by lightning. James Buchanan is all but unrecognizable, the features of our only bachelor president having slowly eroded in the elements. The back of Lincoln’s head is missing, not by an assassin’s bullet but by a tumble off of a flatbed truck.

They are the former Presidents of these United States, and huddled together in a nondescript field in Croaker, Virginia, they form one of the oddest attractions in the South.

“We have had hundreds of people come from all over the U.S. to see them. We’ve had international visitors,” said photographer John Plashal, who hosts regular events among this American Easter Island. “I would say 98 percent of people come because they’re falling down. Right now, they’re coming because they’re bizarre.”

For the first time ever, several remnants from the original tourist attraction that was open from 2004-2010 will be on display as accompaniments to the 42 decaying sculptures that have now fallen into a significant state of disrepair. The mementos that will be on display include several of the original placards, park signage, flags, gift shop items, authentic First Lady dresses and much more.

In addition to opportunities to take pictures, interesting facts and stories will be shared amongst our guests throughout the day. Presidential trivia with PRIZES will be held during both sessions. Additionally, merchandise such as prints, puzzles, magnets and books will also be available for sale from two of Virginia’s premier “abandonment artists.” Events scheduled for October 11th and 25th. Visit johnplashalphoto.com to see upcoming dates and buy tickets.

Had the heads attracted this much attention when they were first sculpted, they might not be in such a state. Originally created by sculptor David Adickes for nearby Williamsburg’s President’s Park, the nearly 20-foot-tall presidential heads were to be destroyed when the park went under in 2010 due to lack of visitors. At the last minute, Howard Hankin, who had been hired for the demolition, had a change of heart.

Rather than destroy them, Hankin was going to take these mammoth presidential heads home.

“He ended up rigging up a crane… and taking out the tops of their heads so he could attach rigging cables to the rebar underneath and rock them off their foundation,” said Plashal. “It took two excavators to get the bigger ones out of there.”


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Take advantage of a unique opportunity to photograph these internationally renowned decaying presidential sculptures. With full permission from the landowner, participants have a 6 hour window to photograph these magically derelict artifacts in low light. In addition to opportunities to take pictures, interesting facts and stories will be shared amongst guests throughout the day. Presidential trivia with prizes will be held during sessions. Additionally, merchandise such as prints, puzzles, magnets and books will also be available for sale from two of Virginia’s premier “abandonment artists.” Events are scheduled throughout the rest of the year. Visit johnplashalphoto.com to see upcoming dates and buy tickets. 

 

Bonus John Plashal Photography

Abemilkyway

When art imitates life: David Adicke’s sculpture of Abraham Lincoln obviously didn’t include a hole in the back of its head. It turns out that the sculpture was destined to suffer a similar fate to the real Lincoln when it fell off the back of a flatbed truck during transportation.

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John Plashal ‘s portrait of the president’s heads under a meteor shower.

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Andrew Jackson is one of the VIP statues that weighs 25% heavier and is 25% taller than the others. Artist, David Adickes picked Jackson because he “liked his hair.”

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The decay pattern on several of the heads gives the impression of tears, making it look as though the presidents are mourning their mutual corrosion – also currently relevant to the state of the country.

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“Both George and the skies were cooperative last night for our photo workshop,” John Plashal

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