| Southington |
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| || SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
75 Main Street
Dedicated: August 18, 1880
Type: Granite pedestal and figure
Designer, fabricator, and supplier: James G. Batterson
Sculptor: Charles Conrads
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Southington, is significant historically because it demonstrates the community's respect and honor for those who served in the Civil War. The monument has become the central component in a grouping of memorials to all wars on the Green.
The Green itself was laid out in 1876, only four years before the monument was erected. Over time its service as a site for war memorials has become its primary function. The layout and arrangement are cohesive, well-balanced, and easily understood. The Civil War monument reflects tastes in sculpture and monument design of the late 19th century, the flagpole is one of several in Connecticut marking World War I, and the stelae to the south, of granite with little sculpture, are characteristic of the post-World War II era.
The small community of Southington sent 322 men to the Civil War.Their names are recorded at the base of the nearby World War I flagpole, not on SOLDIERS' MONUMENT.
The monument was financed by a $2,800 town appropriation, augmented by private subscription to a total of about $4,000, which included several hundred dollars for improvements to the new park.
On Dedication Day, Wednesday, August 18, 1880, factories were closed and downtown streets decorated with flags, bunting, and mottoes. A street sprinkler borrowed from Meriden was in use all day to control the dust. The crowd of 3,000 was the largest to gather in the history of Southington. One of those in attendance was Charles Conrads, sculptor of the monument's figure.
Midday festivities began with a parade. The line of march included visiting Grand Army of the Republic units from New Britain, Meriden, Hartford, and Waterbury; other veterans from Cheshire, New Haven, Hamden, Wolcott, Berlin, Plainville, and Bristol; and the Plantsville (in Southington) Band, City Band of Meriden, and Liberty Cornet Band.
The list of prominent guests was headed by General Joseph R. Hawley, inveterate orator at Civil War monument dedications, who delivered a principal address. Sentiments expressed by the speakers were standard for the occasion. In opening remarks the chairman for the day said to the crowd, "You have raised the yonder stone to teach your children, and your children's children, the value of their fathers' work." General Hawley, commander of the 1st Connecticut Volunteers at Bull Run, former governor, and future United States senator, spoke in glowing terms of "the great cause of liberty," declared that the war had overcome the danger that "the states would fall apart," and identified the conflict as "a battle for humanity."
The final speaker, B.G. Northrop, addressed more difficult issues in government and religion. He said, "The wisest men of the South admit that their defeat in war is to be their lasting gain in peace," and, "The war ... has led to the more general recognition of God as our hope and deliverer and of Christianity as the germ of our civilization...."
Following the ceremonies luncheon was served, 300 at a seating.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Southington, is significant artistically because its figure is unquestionably the work of Charles Conrads, and because of the pedestal's mixture of elaborate motifs with plain surfaces.
Charles Conrads (1839-1920), who came from Germany to America, was employed by James G. Batterson in his company long called New England Granite Works. Conrads modelled the first known soldier at parade rest, for the Antietam, Maryland, monument, and continued in Batterson's employ for the balance of his lifetime. His piece entitled "The American Soldier" (the typical Civil War monument figure), was exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876.
The question of who designed the pedestal portion of the monument is unresolved, as it often is with Civil War monuments. The pedestal combines intricate Victorian-era details, such as the free-standing polished columns with foliate capitals, recessed dado, gablets, and courses of half-round decoration, with little other embellishment. The lettering on the front of the dado is limited to five words and the year dates, perhaps a record for brevity, while the other faces are plain. There are no names of individuals, no unit names, no battle names, as commonly found. The trophies in the upper area of the pedestal are limited to the Seal of Connecticut, on the front. (See DEFENDERS OF THE FLAG, Plainville, for similar brevity and blank surfaces.) Perhaps matters of budget were at issue, with available funds spent on fine stone (referred to as "white" in contemporary newspaper account) in good quantity, some design elaboration, and little added embellishment.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Southington, is a 20'-tall light-tan ("white") Westerly granite memorial consisting of pedestal and conventional figure. The pedestal's blue granite columns and the presence at the dedication of the sculptor, Charles Conrads, are features that set this monument apart from others. Sited in the center of the Green, the monument is dedicated to all who served in the 1861-1865 Civil War.
The plinth supports a two-stage base for the pedestal. The dado is recessed behind four corner columns of polished blue granite. The column capitals are robust foliate motifs, in tan granite. Only the front face carries lettering, as noted below. Each face is topped by a peaked stilted gablet. The Seal of the State of Connecticut, raised, is carved in the east gable; other gables are blank. A row of three half-round moldings is located above each gablet. The top surfaces of the pedestal are concave curves, each with two recessed channels.
The soldier figure is standing with his left foot forward. The butt of the rifle is to the right of his right foot, at a 45-degree angle. Both hands are held on the barrel, right over left. His overcoat is knee-length, with cape; accoutrements are suspended from the waist belt. The bayonet at left hip has been broken off and is missing. Face clean-shaven and looking to the left, he wears a visored cap.
North of SOLDIERS' MONUMENT on the Green is an 87'-high flagpole with a tall base or pedestal, raised in 1919. Each face of the base carries a bronze plaque with list of names. On the east and north are names of those who served in the Great War, 1914-1919. On the west, those who served in the Civil War are listed in two columns of 80 names and two of 81, for a total of 322 men. The plaque on the south face commemorates those who served in the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War, and Spanish War [sic].
A group of five granite stelae stands south of the monument with lettering and bronze plaques commemorating World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Conflicts, and those who served in them.
Front (east) face of dado, raised polished caps:THE DEFENDERS OF
Baruch, p. 13.
David F. Ransom, Historic and Architectural Resource Survey of Southington Inventory Form, Statewide Historic Resource Inventory, Connecticut Historical Commission, Hartford, 1985.
Southington Phoenix, August 20, 1880.