Team Works Diligently to Locate Granite for Repairs to May 4 Memorial 

Kent State University leaders have worked diligently over the past five weeks to restore the May 4 Memorial to its original beauty after it sustained damage in an August storm. Repairs on the May 4 Memorial are estimated to take between five- and six months following approval to proceed with the project, according to Joseph Graham, university architect. 

“Much of this time will be based on the lead time of the granite material from the quarry in South Dakota,” Graham said. The quarry produced the Carnelian granite used in the memorial’s construction and repairs to six panels in 1991. 

Intense winds from the August storm brought down several large branches that struck and damaged the granite memorial, which was officially dedicated on May 4, 1990, as part of the 20th commemoration of the day four students were killed and nine wounded by Ohio National Guardsmen who opened fire during an anti-war demonstration.  

May 4 Memorial Damaged August 25, 2023, during an overnight storm

Of the memorial’s 137 panels, 17 will require replacement or about 12 percent of the memorial, Graham said. 

The university has secured samples of the granite, which is currently being quarried. Because granite is a natural stone, there is a strong resemblance to the existing granite, but some variations occur across batches and time. 

Kent State has connected with the memorial’s designer and architect, Bruno Ast, who expressed regret to hear of the storm damage but was pleased that the university is restoring it. The memorial’s environmental design was developed from a concept submitted by Ast to the university’s National Design Competition in 1986. 

“Mr. Ast has volunteered to send us his project records to help with documentation and understanding the details of how the panels were designed and assembled,” Graham said. “We are grateful for his assistance by sending us his records of the memorial, which we will preserve within university archives.”  

May 4 Memorial and daffodils
View of the May 4 Memorial prior to the storm

In addition to the restoration work being done on the memorial, the university is updating and replacing the current May 4 Walking Tour markers under a plan that was to take place in 2020. The plan was delayed for extra review and to update the content of the markers.  

The grounds team is also planting thousands of daffodil bulbs on the hillside to maintain this living memorial. Each year the team plants between 4,000 to 5,000 bulbs at the site.  

"Signage updates to the markers will include matching the student names with those on the injured student markers and including distances that match the research around that project," said Alison Caplan, director of the May 4 Visitor Center.  

“The initial signs were installed in 2010 so they have seen a lot of wear and tear over the years. The signs are currently faded from the sun and damaged by tree sap, making the photographs hard to discern. We are looking at using materials that can better sustain harsh weather damage and resist graffiti.” 

Because the markers are in high-traffic areas, concrete paver bump-outs will be created that can better accommodate tour groups and stave off damage from golf carts and plows. There will also be additional information about the shooting at Jackson State University.  

It is the university’s intention to have repairs to the memorial complete by May 4, 2024, “but we need to make sure that we take the time necessary to communicate with the families and community and hear their feedback on the proposed repairs,” Graham said. 

Find more information about the May 4 Visitors Center here.

POSTED: Tuesday, October 17, 2023 11:41 AM
Updated: Wednesday, October 18, 2023 10:08 AM
April McClellan-Copeland