On our brief two-hours of free time in Florida – we (Karen, Roger and I) headed to Kissimmee and The World’s Most Unique Monument – something Roger had found on the web.
The most unique part of the monument was the few Weddles represented – including a JW Weddle. No, we have no idea who these Weddles are – but interesting …
Here is the story of a wacky tourist attraction.
The idea for the monument came right after Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1942. Dr. Charles Bressler-Pettis, who like to boost tourism for his hometown (Kissimmee, Florida) was motivated to do something patriotic for his country.
So he collected rocks. He wrote to every governor of every state and asked them to send him rocks. And soon he began receiving packages in the mail: small boulders, native granite, quartz, chunks of old buildings. He even received a rock from Roosevelt’s Hyde Park estate.
When Dr. Charles had received rocks from all 48 states, he mortared them together into a tower of concrete slabs. The slabs included the rock, the origin and the name of the donor. At the top of the monument he wrote “Tourist Paradise.” The monument was dedicated on March 28, 1943 as the World’s Most Unique Monument.
Dr. Charles died, but stones continued coming. Workers embedded them into the surrounding walkways and the monument was a HUGE tourist attraction before Disney.
But Disney happened and the monument looked more and more dilapidated and The World’s Most Unique Monument was all but forgotten.
Then 9/11 happened and patriotism was again in vogue. An automobile association and the Hampton Inn Landmark Project gave the monument a facelift. (Hampton Inns regularly donate money to refurbish historic landmarks that have fallen to disrepair.) A new flag was placed on top and needed paint was added to the stones.
And so it stands – a truly unique monument to the States