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| || SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL GATEWAY |
924 Whalley Avenue (north of)
Westville in New Haven, CT
Type: Exedra of traprock with bronze plaques
Architect: Brown & VonBeren
Contractor: J. N. Leonard & Company
Height: Approximately 16'
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL GATEWAY, Westville, New Haven, is significant historically because of its late date. Earlier community efforts seeking to erect a memorial, begun soon after the war, had come to naught. Realization that soon there would be no living Civil War veterans finally spurred action. Few Civil War monuments were erected in Connecticut as late as 1915.
At a May 30, 1879, meeting in the Westville Methodist Church $50 was raised toward the cost of a memorial. By the early 20th century, the sum had grown to about $1,000. New committees, which were able to get the job done, were formed ca.1914. They were the memorial committee, a committee of the Grand Army of the Republic, and a committee from the Edgewood Civic Association. The fact that a G.A.R. group was still active 50 years after the war is to be noted, and adds significance to the circumstances surrounding the erection of one of the last Civil War monuments in the state. Final cost was about $1,500.
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL GATEWAY, Westville, New Haven, is significant artistically because it is an example of a Civil War monument in the exedra form, one of the few in Connecticut. (See also 24TH REGIMENT C.V. MONUMENT, Middletown.) The exedra is of classical origin; its use was part of the Neo-Classical Revival movement which occurred in the United States at the turn of the century. Thus, most Civil War monuments were erected before the advent of the trend of which this memorial is a part. For a contemporary war memorial in the exedra form, see the Spanish-American War monument in Bushnell Park, Hartford.
The materials of SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL GATEWAY are unusual. The monument may be the only one of traprock in the state. The use of traprock and concrete suggests a limited budget. The stone, indigenous to the neighborhood, was used for the foundation of a nearby church as well.
The architect, Ferdinand VonBeren, who inherited the practice of the famous 19th-century New Haven practitioner David Brown, did business under the name of Brown & VonBeren. He vied with Allen & Williams (see HAMDEN MEMORIAL TOWN HALL) for the largest volume of business in the city at the time. "They rode out many whirlwind fashions and dominated popular and political patronage until into the 1920s" (Elizabeth Mills Brown, page 8). Among other works by Brown & VonBeren are the Frederick Grave House (E.M. Brown, entry E2), Saint Luke's Church (Brown F5), and the El Dorado Apartments (Brown G17).
SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL GATEWAY, Westville, New Haven, is an exedra canted to face the intersection of Whalley Avenue and Philip Street at the southeast corner of Beecher Park. The monument serves as an entranceway to the park. Built of traprock ashlar, the Westville MEMORIAL consists of two square 16'-high piers flanked by curving wings with seats which terminate in rounded 5' piers. The floor of the exedra is two risers above the sidewalk, and steps continue between the tall piers up into the park.
The trim of the masonry, that is, the copings of the wing walls, risers, and top sections of the tall piers, is cast concrete. In the paneled top sections of the tall piers, the front panels bear raised likenesses of the Seals of Connecticut and the United States, Connecticut's to the north and the United States' to the south.
This monument commemorates all men from the community who enlisted in Civil War service.
Poor pointing has been done in the past; joints are buttered and color of the mortar is too light. The principal building in Beecher Park is the Donald G. Mitchell Library, named after the designer of East Rock Park (see SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, East Rock Park, New Haven).
South pier, bronze plaque, raised caps:ERECTED BY THE
WESTVILLE SOLDIERS MEMORIAL
TO COMMEMORATE THOSE WHO ENLISTED
FROM THIS PLACE IN THE
WAR OF 1861-1865
(followed by 2 columns of 16 names)
North pier:(Similar plaque with same heading followed by 2 columns of 16 names plus 1 name centered at the bottom)
Floor of exedra, bronze letters 4" high:SOLDIERS' MEMORIAL / A.D. 1915
Elizabeth Mills Brown, New Haven, A Guide to Architecture and Urban Design (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), p. 8.
"A Guide to Public Art in New Haven" (New Haven Department of Cultural Affairs, 1989), Westville 5, broadside.
Richard Hegel, "Veterans and War Memorials and Monuments in the City of New Haven, Connecticut," Journal of the New Haven Colony Historical Society 37(Spring 1991):36.
"Memorials and Historical Points of Interest, New Haven Park System," (New Haven: New Haven Park Commission, April 15, 1950).
(New Haven) Saturday Chronicle, July 11, 1915, p. 8; October 13, 1917, p. 5.
Unidentified, undated newspaper clipping. Local History Room, New Haven Public Library.