Sixth graders lead restoration effort

Twin brothers hope to save a coat worn by GHS principal Albert Bacheler in the Civil War

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Sixth graders lead restoration effort

CAROLINE ENOS, Staff Writer

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Ever notice the deteriorating coat hanging on the wall next to the guidance offices? Ever wonder why it’s there and why it hasn’t been in its case for the past few months?

Thanks to the efforts of 6th graders Charles and George King, Albert Bacheler’s coat is finally going to be restored to its former glory with the help of public support.

“Albert Bacheler used the coat to inspire students to never give up,” said George. “He thought that the coat was inspirational and important to GHS, and showed the coat was connected to GHS.”

Albert Bacheler was given the coat by a slave after he had escaped Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. He used the coat to conceal his Union uniform while moving through enemy territory, and later to inspire students during his time as GHS principal from 1883 to 1913.

Eighty years ago, the coat was given back to the high school for the 50th anniversary of Gloucester’s JROTC. Since then, the coat has sat in the school without having any preventative maintenance done to it. Parent Kim Minnaugh noticed that the coat was infested with mold and bugs last year, and the issue was then brought to the attention of Gloucester’s Committee of Art.

“Our mom is on the Committee of Art and we often attend the meetings and found this really interesting,” said Charles. “Nothing was getting done so we took it on.”

The Kings started the project last fall, and have sent the coat to Museum Textile Services to be cleaned. So far they have reached a $1,000 goal on their YOUCARING page, and are working to raise more for their overall goal of $3,800 for the restoration of the coat and creation of a new case. They hope to raise more money to build a bigger, more interactive, spinning case for the garment.

“The case and coat should be somewhere the public can see it during events, perhaps in the vicinity of the auditorium,” said GHS principal Erik Anderson. “It needs to be accessible and able to be seen.”

The Kings also applied for an Awesome Gloucester micro-grant for $1,000 and presented to the trustees on April 18th. Even though they did not get the grant, they still have public support.

“I was so impressed by these two young men who are merely school students, that I’ve decided to help them,” said Russell Hobbs at the Awesome Gloucester presentation. “I’m so proud to help them. This is what Gloucester is.”

“To show that it’s not just a few people who care, we are in middle school and we’re writing this page,” said the Kings on their YOUCARING page. “With a little luck, it will hopefully be cleaned and saved by the time we’re in high school.” 

To donate to the King’s YOUCARING page, go to  https://www.youcaring.com/the-gloucester-fund-467104 .

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