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| || LEDYARD BILL MONUMENT |
20 Colonel Ledyard Highway
Dedicated: July 4, 1873
Type: Granite obelisk, with ordnance
Donor: Ledyard Bill
Height: Approximately 19'
LEDYARD BILL MONUMENT, Ledyard, is significant historically because it is a symbol of honor and respect for those who served in the Civil War and is the philanthropy of a single individual, Ledyard Bill. The Bill family was prominent in Ledyard history for several generations in the 19th century, and continue active to the present time. Ledyard Bill was living in Brooklyn, New York, when he presented the monument to the town. His brother Henry later (in 1893) endowed the adjoining library, which is now rented to the town. Another brother established the (private) Bill Memorial Library in Ledyard. For a similar philanthropy of Civil War monument and adjoining library by a local family, see BROWN SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Preston.
In March 1873 the Ecclesiastical Society deeded a parcel of land 45-feet square to Ledyard Bill with the privilege of setting a monument upon it. The land was then across the street from the Congregational Church in what was referred to as the Green. It was not unusual for ownership of a town's green to rest with the church. Bill in turn presented the monument and land to the town. In the 1980s the street pattern was revised; the street between the church and the monument was removed and the long narrow strip, formerly the street, planted to grass as an enhanced green.
On July 4, 1873, Ledyard Bill was on hand to make the presentation of his gift to the town. The monument was draped in the national colors for the event. Proceedings were appropriate for the occasion, led by the Union Coronet Band of Mystic.
LEDYARD BILL MONUMENT is significant artistically because it is a good example of an early Civil War monument obelisk which depends on its basic simple but pleasing proportions for effect, rather than elaborate stonecarving. See also SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Norfolk, and SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Branford, which are similar in design and mass and date from about the same period.
LEDYARD BILL MONUMENT is a granite obelisk on high plinth, base, and dado, dedicated to those who served in the war. The overall site on which it is located, next to the Bill Library, is elevated about 12 feet above the highway. The monument itself rests on a mound covered with low evergreen shrubs. Four cannon extending radially from the corners of the plinth can be discerned through the shrubbery.
The plinth and base are cut from a tan/gray granite, the dado and shaft from a tan granite of finer grain. Each stage has a smaller cross section than the stage below it, and the crowning shaft tapers; all parts contribute to the effect of diminishing size.
On the north front of the dado, over the lettering, there is a raised Shield of the United States. On the shaft above are raised crossed sabers of the cavalry. On the other three sides a star is raised over the names on the dado, while the shaft is not embellished. The names are not accompanied by rank, unit, or date of death, as often is the case.
The entire composition makes use of only one molding, a cyma over the dado serving as transition to the shaft.
Monuments to World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam conflict are grouped northwest of LEDYARD BILL MONUMENT. A flagpole adjoins.
Front (north) face of dado, incised caps:IN HONOR
MEN OF LEDYARD (raised in recessed panel)WHO FOUGHT FOR THE
PRESERVATION OF THE UNION
IN THE WAR OF 1861-5.
ERECTED JULY 4, A.D. 1873
BY LEDYARD BILL
South:ROLL OF THE FALLEN / (raised caps in recessed panel) (8 names, through letter E of the alphabet)
East:(11 names, F - P)
West:(8 names, P - W / / 1 name, B, out of alphabetical order)
Janice Wightman Bill and Carolyn E. Smith, eds., Historic Ledyard, Volume II, Ledyard Center (Ledyard: Ledyard Historical Society, 1987), p. 59.
Janice P. Cunningham, Historic and Architectural Resource Survey of Ledyard, Connecticut, Statewide Historic Resource Inventory, Form #9, Connecticut Historical Commission, Hartford, 1991.
Ledyard Green, Town Green Survey, Statewide Historic Resource Inventory, Hartford: Connecticut Historical Commission, 1992.