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| || SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' MONUMENT |
St. John's Park
Main, Grove, and Elm Streets
Dedicated: November 11, 1920
Type: Choragic monument of Lysicrates
Architect: George A. Freeman
Sculptor: Madame Marie Appell
Foundry: Gorham Company
Contractor: W. W. LeLand Company
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, Stamford, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of honor and respect paid by the community to those who fought in the nation's wars. The cost in 1920 exceeded $50,000, raised by private subscription. As built, there were no flagpole, radial walks, and benches on the site.
The flagpole was added in 1971, but the walks and benches came as part of a $103,000 rehabilitation in 1985. The stone was cleaned and "weather proofed" at that time. The bronze plaques were blasted with flour by the Bridgeport Restoration Company.
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, Stamford, is significant artistically because it is an ambitious treatment of a design based on classical precedent. It is one of the larger war memorials in the state, ranking in size and cost with SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MEMORIAL ARCH, Hartford, SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Bridgeport, and SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, East Rock Park, New Haven.
The monument is an exercise in architecture, with sculpture represented only by the eagles on top. The architect, George A. Freeman (1859-1934), born and raised in New York City, graduated in architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He practiced in Stamford mostly in the late 19th century, before removing to Sarasota, Florida, where he continued to practice. It may be that Sarasota was his place of residence at the time of the monument commission. Freeman designed the General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial at West Point, New York, and was known for his Celtic crosses and mausoleums. Stamford first commissioned Freeman to draw plans for a memorial building, but it was not constructed because of the high projected cost.
The [Stamford] Advocate on November 11, 1920, devoted several paragraphs to description and discussion of the original Choragic monument and its differences from the Stamford version. One of the differences is the use by Freeman of Ionic instead of Corinthian columns.
The large number of names recorded on the monument, 4,400, is an early example of the use of names in great quantity, foretelling the technique used for the 1980s Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Nothing is known of the sculptor, Madame Marie Appell, other than her name reported by the Advocate. Gorham Company of Providence and New York cast the bronze plaques. The contractor, W.W. Leland Company, was a New York City firm.
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, Stamford, is sited in the center of half-acre St. John's Park. Once the centerpiece of a residential neighborhood, the park is now an oasis in a field of glass office buildings. The stone St. John's Episcopal Church nearby is the only survivor of earlier buildings. The monument is surrounded by a circular concrete walk with 12 concrete segmental benches. Smaller walks in a radial pattern run out from the central monument, itself a circle, to the surrounding walk and benches.
The monument is dedicated to Stamford men who served in all military engagements from 1641 to 1918. (See VETERANS MEMORIAL, Farmington, for similar reference to all military engagements.)
The memorial is modeled after the Choragic monument of Lysicrates of ancient Greece (see also SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Seymour), but is a blind rather than open peristyle. The cylinder is in two parts, a base of gray granite, which is largely covered by bronze plaques, and a columnar upper section of white marble. It is surmounted by three eagles which are carved on the sides of a triangular superstructure.
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, Stamford, rests on a low gray granite plinth, which supports the gray granite base of fillet, large and prominent torus molding, and half scotia, 24' in diameter. The granite was quarried at Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Above the base the stone is white Danby marble from Vermont Marble Company. The rusticated dado, 9', 7" in height, is mostly concealed by the bronze plaques, which have borders of roses at the tops and bellflowers on the sides, under a plain three-part cornice. Nine fluted Ionic engaged half columns form the peristyle, 10', 2" in diameter. Above its cornice the circular roof is stepped to the triangular superstructure on which the eagles are carved. The eagles are vertical in posture, displaying mostly their bodies and heads rather than their wings. It is necessary to stand well back from the structure in order to have an angle of view over the cornice and be able to see the eagles.
Names on plaques and lettering in the wall panels include reference to all other wars through 1918 as well as the Civil War. The total number of names is 4,400; of these 2,637 are for World War I, 700 for the Civil War.
The marble wall panels between the engaged half-columns carry lettering in incised caps. Two panels on the south are headed 1861 - 1865. The eastern of these reads from the top:SUMTER
The western:HAMPTON ROADS
The granite base is covered with five bronze plaques 4', 3" high x 8', 3" wide x 2" thick. Two of these toward the east carry 700 Civil War names in raised caps.
The frieze over the columns bears the incised caps: IN EVERLASTING MEMORY OF STAMFORD'S PATRIOTS 1641 - 1918.
[Stamford] Advocate, November 11, 1920, l:4 il. and 5:1; October 1, 1971; July 5, 1985; July 10, 1985; September 12, 1985; September 18, 1985; and November 11, 1985.
Stamford Past and Present, 1641-1976 (Stamford, CT: Stamford Connecticut Bicentennial Committee, 1976), p. 89.
Henry F. and Elsie Rathburn Withey, Biographical Dictionary of American Architects (Deceased) (Los Angeles: Hennessey & Ingalls, Inc., 1970, reprint of 1956), p. 221.