Van destroys section of Baltimore's Washington Monument fence

An unknown driver ran his van through a southeast section of the more-than-150-year-old iron fence surrounding Baltimore's Washington Monument in Mount Vernon early Saturday morning, police said.

Police were dispatched just after 2:30 a.m. to Washington Place and East Mount Vernon Place after a 1997 Chrysler van struck the fence, but police spokesman Kevin Brown could not confirm if any citations had been issued.

The fence, adorned with a motif of battle axes and stars, surrounds the 178-foot-tall monument designed by architect Robert Mills. The monument was constructed between 1815 and 1829, decades before the more-famous Washington Monument by Mills opened in the nation's capital.

By Saturday afternoon, city officials replaced about a 15-foot section of fence with a chain-link fence. Pieces of the fence had been removed by city officials, said Karen Footner with the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy, a private, nonprofit group that paid for the engineering study early this year to restore the Charles Street monument.

"Historically, it's very significant," she said.

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