| BROWN SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
296 SR 164
Preston City in Preston, CT
Dedicated: November 25, 1898
Type: Massive granite pier with surmounting sphere
Designer, fabricator, and supplier: Smith Granite Company
Donors: Charles H. Brown and Lucius Brown
Height: 10', 6"
BROWN SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Preston City in Preston, is significant historically as a monument to those from Preston who served in the Civil War and because, along with the library in front of which it stands, it was the 1898 benefaction of the Brown brothers to Preston. Charles H. Brown and his brother Judge Lucius Brown donated the monument; Charles H. Brown, the library. The two structures were dedicated the same day, November 25, 1898, with a crowd of 400 in attendance.
The original lettering, recorded below, speaks of 150 men who went from Preston to serve in the Civil War. The added bronze World War I plaque records 50 names, one-third the Civil War number, as participating in the 1917-1918 conflict. The reduction in number tells of the decrease in population and activity in this eastern Connecticut community.
The house of General Samuel Mott, Preston's Revolutionary War leader, is immediately adjoining to the south, and is part of the property, vacant now as it was in 1898.
The library building and monument have changed little over 90 years, except for the growth of the arborvitae, which obscures the memorial. About 1990 the library moved to a new larger building. The Preston Historical Society now occupies the premises and maintains the monument.
BROWN SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Preston City in Preston, is significant artistically because it is an example of the work of Smith Granite Company, Westerly, Rhode Island, that is different from most of its monuments. Instead of being the usual figure surmounting a shaft or pedestal, it is a pier with polished sphere on top. Also, the pier is a darker shade of gray than often quarried in Westerly. Customarily, Smith designed, quarried, and cut its monuments at its quarries, and presumably did so for Preston.
Why this design is different, and who made the selection, are not known. The design is not unique; other examples of Connecticut Civil War monuments consisting of sphere on upright are SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, West Haven, and NON-REPATRIATED SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Winsted in Winchester.
BROWN SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Preston City in Preston, so called because of the name of its donors, is a massive pier of quarry-faced dark gray granite topped by a polished light gray sphere. It is dedicated to all Preston men who served in the Civil War. The memorial stands in front of the Preston Historical Society on a high bank above the highway. The historical society's building was constructed as the Preston City Free Public Library at the same time as the monument, in 1898.
A steep flight of steps leads up the 12' bank from the highway to a walk which divides to encircle the monument before continuing on to the building. The monument is also encircled by arborvitae 4'/5' tall which prevent view of the lower part of the pier and touch the stone on all sides. In a historical photograph the shrubbery is about one foot high. Grade falls off sharply on both sides as well as at the front of the site, making it a striking promontory. A mortar cannon with pyramidal pile of cannonballs is located at each front corner; a low flagpole is in the center in front of the monument.
The monument pier rests on granite plinth and base. Its large blocks of stone are quarry-finished, except for the polished recessed panels in which are incised the lettering noted below. A block of light gray granite on top of the pier supports the sphere. The central sections of its sides have been cut away on the diagonal, leaving the corners square. It and the sphere are highly polished light gray granite.
The library building, now occupied by the Preston Historical Society, is a one-story frame Queen Anne structure. Like the monument, it has changed little in the century of its existence.
Front (northwest) face of bottom of pier, 24" x 36" bronze plaque, raised caps:WORLD WAR
(list of 50 names)
Above, polished granite surface, incised caps:IN GRATEFUL MEMORY
OF THOSE CITIZENS OF THE TOWN OF
WHO SERVED THEIR COUNTRY IN ARMS
IN THE WAR FOR
THE PRESERVATION OF THE UNION
Above, at base of sphere, low raised polished caps and insignia:1861 (Seal of United States) 1865.
Southwest side:FROM THIS TOWN
OBEDIENT TO THE CALL OF
PATRIOTISM AND HUMANITY
ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY MEN
AS SOLDIERS IN THE CIVIL WAR
Southeast (rear) side:THIS MONUMENT
MARKS THE DWELLING PLACE OF
GENERAL SAMUEL MOTT
SOLDIER OF THE REVOLUTION
FRIEND OF WASHINGTON
IN TOKEN OF FILIAL GRATITUDE AND
AFFECTION FOR THEIR EARLY HOME
AND TO COMMEMORATE
THE PATRIOTIC DEVOTION OF
FRIENDS & NEIGHBORS OF THEIR YOUTH
CHARLES AND LUCIUS BROWN
"Dedication, Preston City Free Public Library and Soldiers' Monument, November 25, 1898." Preston Public Library.
Norwich Courier, November 29, 1898.
Preston in Review (The Preston Historical Society, Inc., 1971), pp. 162, 163.
Isaac Gallup Smith, Jr., conversation, December 29, 1993.