| Newtown |
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| || WAR MEMORIAL MONUMENT |
66 Main Stree
Dedicated: June 2, 1939
Type: Exedras supporting three columns and female standard-bearer, all granite
Designer: Franklin L. Naylor
Supplier: McGovern Granite Company
Donor: Mary E. Hawley
Height: Approximately 36'
WAR MEMORIAL MONUMENT, Newtown, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of honor and respect tendered to the men of Newtown who served in all wars through World War I. It was the testamentary gift ($25,000) of Mary E. Hawley, a Newtown resident who also gave funds for the town hall, the library, and a bridge.
Although the monument was erected in 1931, for reasons unknown it was not formally dedicated until June 2, 1939, on which occasion ceremonies were organized by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. An impressive parade was part of the proceedings that drew a crowd of 2,500 people. The principal speaker was Edward T. Buckingham, former mayor of Bridgeport. The designer and the supplier, Messrs. Naylor and McGovern, were present. The great attraction of the occasion, however, was the performance of two well-known singers, Mrs. Valentin Parera of Newtown (professionally known as Grace Moore) and her house guest, Mrs. Frank Chapman (Gladys Swarthout).
WAR MEMORIAL MONUMENT, Newtown, is significant artistically because it is an ambitious design based on classical tradition modified in the contemporary Art Deco mode. The broad plinth, exedras forming the base, columns, and crowning figure are commonly used features. Their juxtaposition in this particular combination probably was not original to F.L Naylor, the Newtown designer, but precedent has not come to hand. The flat incised ornament of fret and anthemia is characteristic of Art Deco adaptation, which was popular in the 1920s and 1930s. While a standard-bearer stands atop a number of Connecticut Civil War monuments, including SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, and SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Jewett City in Griswold, Newtown's female figure as a standard-bearer is unique in the state.
Little is known of Franklin L. Naylor of New York City. He designed a Jersey City, New Jersey, war memorial and was associated with McGovern on WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Stafford Springs in Stafford, which is a similarly large-scale and ambitious combination of classical and Art Deco design features. McGovern Granite Company was a Hartford firm responsible for several Civil War monuments in addition to those at Newtown and Stafford Springs.
The man who succeeded Naylor as designer to McGovern, Charles Carter, recalls that Naylor's renderings, often in watercolors, were handsomely done, qualifying as art in their own right. Carter believes that Naylor moved to California. Carter also states that a job as large as WAR MEMORIAL MONUMENT, Newtown, would have been cut at a Barre, Vermont, quarry, not in the McGovern Hartford shop. Presumably, the sculptor and the carver of the standard-bearer were quarry employees. Details of the professional and social life of such employees, even their identities, are unknown, except in the case of Smith Granite Company, Westerly, Rhode Island, where the existence of such information is known and prized.
WAR MEMORIAL MONUMENT, Newtown, is an elaborate "white" granite structure of exedra-like base, three columns, and crowning female standard-bearer, set in the center of a small (.15-acre) triangular park in a residential neighborhood on Main Street. Three benches of the same stone and two black granite slabs with Honor Roll bronze plaques are part of the composition. The monument honors Newtown men who served in several wars.
A circular plinth of three risers is divided into three equal sections by stepped piers which define three exedra-like benches. The monument's lettering is on the wall behind the front bench. Due to the fact that the lettering is unusually deep, it is legible despite the fact that it is incised in a smooth surface; the shadow against the light-color granite gives adequate contrast. The three piers are decorated with incised frets at their second stages and with classical shells over scrolls at the tops. Each pier leads to a column. Column capitals are incised anthemia. On top of the columns is a hexagonal feature, transitional to the round base of the figure above. Alternate faces of the hexagon are embellished with raised eagles, flanked by vertical festoons alternating with raised stars.
The crowning female standard-bearer stands with her left foot and leg forward, the knee pushing through the long classical drapery with which she is clothed. Her right hand is at the flag, which is held to her left; the left hand is hidden by the flag. A chain is suspended from a point near her right hand. A laurel branch extends upward from the hand, parallel with the flag. Her features are regular and comely; her head with long hair is turned slightly to her right; and she wears a small sphere on top of her head.
Face of rear (east) pier, incised caps:COPYRIGHTED BY / NEWTOWN, CONN. / F.L. NAYLOR / DESIGNER / McGOVERN GRANITE CO. / BUILDERS / 1931
Front (west) face of die, incised caps:NEWTOWN REMEMBERS
WITH GRATEFUL PRAYERS AND
SOLEMN VOWS HER SACRED DEAD
HER HONORED LIVING WHO
VENTURED ALL UNTO DEATH
THAT WE MIGHT LIVE A REPUBLIC
WITH INDEPENDENCE A NATION
WITH UNION FOREVER A WORLD
AND PEACE FOR ALL
In front, bronze plaques on 70" x 37 1/2' x 7" black marble slabs, raised caps listing names by war, north slab:HONOR ROLL
WAR OF 1812
MEXICAN BORDER WAR
South slab:HONOR ROLL
The Newtown Bee, December 2, 1930, p. 1; May 15, 1931, p. 1; and June 2, 1939.
Charles Carter, retired designer to McGovern Granite Company, conversation, July 21, 1994.