Connecticut's Civil War Monuments


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801 Worthington Ridge
Berlin, CT

Dedicated: November 11, 1920
Type: Tall granite obelisk with bronze eagle
Architect: William F. Brooks
Sculptor: Henry Niehaus?
Supplier: Fox-Becker Granite Company
Height: approximately 40'

Historical Significance

WAR MEMORIAL, Worthington Ridge, is significant historically because it represents the desire of the residents of the Town of Berlin to honor those from the town who served in wars. While prompted by the recent experience of World War I, the original lettering on the pedestal gives equal recognition to service in the Civil War and Spanish-American War. The original intent to recognize all service was continued by the plaques subsequently raised near the pergola behind the monument, which list names from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

To a substantial degree, the WAR MEMORIAL, Worthington Ridge, was the benefaction of Major Frank L. Wilcox, president of the local Fidelity Trust Company, who gave funds to purchase and clear the site and defrayed the expense of improvements other than the monument itself.

Artistic Significance

WAR MEMORIAL, Worthington Ridge, is significant artistically because it is an example of a traditional obelisk adapted to the Art Deco mode. In the manner of traditional Civil War monument obelisks, Worthington Ridge follows a standard in that it is mounted on a pedestal and surmounted by an eagle. (See BROADWAY CIVIL WAR MONUMENT, New Haven.) But Worthington Ridge is tall and sheer and without the well-defined horizontal moldings that define the components of base, pedestal, and shaft in the earlier works. The single curved line at the bottom of this WAR MEMORIAL and the attenuated proportions of the shaft identify it with the Art Deco style, which was coming into prominence at the time of its design in 1920.

The flagpoles at Worthington Ridge, almost as tall as the monument, work well in the plan, creating a fitting ensemble. Such flagpoles are found elsewhere, as at World War I Memorial, New Haven, and Torrington War Memorial. Worthington Ridge is different because it has two. The partiality of the architect, William F. Brooks, for Adamesque features, often found in his other works, is here evidenced by the robust festoons on the bell-shaped pedestals of the flagpoles, but such high-relief details are out of place with the Art Deco.

The rustic character of the pergolas reflects a design preference then in vogue for rough masonry and exposed, structure-revealing wood forms, but, again, is a diverse design element. The overall site, while attractive, does not have design unity. The present unkempt state of the pergolas dilutes their original visual contribution.

Fox-Becker of Middletown, CT, still in business as Fox-Becker-Sterry Granite Company, was and still is a stone cutter and monument dealer. It is possible that the firm was the middleman for the WAR MEMORIAL, Worthington Ridge, in which event the identities of the designer and fabricator are unknown. The newspaper account of the forthcoming dedication states that the architect's responsibility was the layout of the landscape design, presumably including the flagpoles and pergolas (which were modeled after a nearby garden trellis). The division of responsibility may account for the lack of unity in the overall concept. William F. Brooks (1872-1950) was a resident of New Britain, with which Berlin has close ties, a graduate of the Columbia School of Architecture, and a student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Paris. He conducted a highly successful practice in Hartford, for some years in the partnership of Davis & Brooks. The firm designed the Hartford Municipal Building and many other works in the Colonial Revival/Georgian Revival style.

The surmounting eagle is more conventional, being similar to the eagle at BROADWAY and on WORLD WAR MEMORIAL, Meriden. The sculptor of the eagle is identified as being Henry Niehaus in Civil War Union Monuments, p. 9. Niehaus designed Soldiers and Sailors monuments at Hoboken, Newark, and Hackensack, New Jersey. His Worthington Ridge eagle, representative of such earlier period, is nearly identical to that at BROADWAY CIVIL WAR MONUMENT, New Haven, and similar to the eagle at World War Memorial, Meriden, where the wings are raised higher.


Berlin's WAR MEMORIAL on Worthington Ridge consists of a tall granite obelisk which is surmounted by a bronze eagle and flanked by flag poles, the whole in front of a rustic arbor. It occupies a small park at the corner of Farmington Avenue. The site is defined by a low brownstone random ashlar wall, rounded and stepped down at the street corner. Inside the widely spaced entrance piers of the wall a courtyard of slate and bluestone pavers is surrounded by squares of concrete within a red brick border.

At grade the base of the monument is formed of square and rectangular blocks of granite and limestone. The second level is granite with quarry-finished edges. The face of the base and the face of the pedestal form a single curved line with minor stepped moldings forming a smooth transition from pedestal to shaft. At the top of the shaft the eagle's talons are fixed to a granite sphere.

On either side of the monument two-stage granite plinths support the cast-iron bell-shaped pedestals in which the steel flagpoles are set. The bell shapes are embellished with raised swags.

At the rear of the site, where grade falls off, two pergolas flank a rounded brownstone wall section which surrounds a field artillery piece. The wooden framework of the pergolas is supported by 18" x 19" brownstone piers. At the north end, five brick risers with stone treads lead up from Farmington Avenue. Wrought-iron railings run on the west side over the retaining wall between the three pairs of piers which support the beams and joists of the arbor. The second pergola, south of the artillery piece, has four pairs of piers. At the south end of the south pergola, stone steps return in a switchback down to grade. The piers are covered with ivy and the arbor is overwhelmed by a vine, in contrast to the stark original appearance.

The four stelae holding bronze plaques are in front of and close to the pergola. Not present in the original views, they appear to have been added from time to time, that is, from war to war. The trim of the southernmost (first - World War I) stele consists of molded limestone cap, sill below the plaque, and transition side moldings, where the width diminishes. The second stele's trim is well modeled on the first in concrete. The final two have concrete trim without moldings. The brownstone ashlar of stelae is poorly pointed up; joints are buttered.


Front (east) face of pedestal, bronze plaques, 26" x 20", raised caps:


(South face):

THE / CIVIL / WAR / 1861-1865




THE / WORLD / WAR / 1914-1918

Four associated nearby bronze plaques, recessed in brownstone stelae under the pergola, from right (north), raised caps:

    First: IN HONOR OF THE MEN AND WOMEN... WHO SERVED... DURING VIETNAM CONFLICT (three names of KIA and MIA, over four columns, three of 84 and one of 81 names)

    Second: KOREAN WAR (one name of KIA over two columns, one of 67 names, one of 68)

    Third: World War II (22 died in service over four columns, two of 75 names, two of 72)

    Fourth: 1917-1919 (two columns, each 48 names)


Baruch, p.9.

Glenn B. Opitz, Mantle Fielding's Dictionary of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers (Poughkeepsie, NY: Apollo Books, 1986), p. 667.

David F. Ransom, "Biographical Dictionary of Hartford Architects," The Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin, 54(Winter/Spring 1989)28.

Undated, unidentified newspaper clipping at Berlin Free Library, Worthington Ridge (an account of the forthcoming dedication).