| Farmington |
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| ||SOLDIERS MONUMENT |
2 School Street at intersection with Main Street
Unionville in Farmington, CT
Dedicated: July 15, 1916
Type: Tall granite pedestal with figures on base and standard-bearer at top
Donor: Captain Nathaniel C. Hayden
Supplier: McGovern Granite Company
Height: Approximately 30'
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, is significant historically because it was primarily the philanthropy of a single individual, Captain Nathaniel C. Hayden (1836-1916). Hayden worked for 25 years to encourage the erection of a Civil War monument in his community. At length, he contracted personally with McGovern to furnish the memorial.
Born in Hartford, Hayden volunteered for service in the war in 1862, becoming a captain in Company G, 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. He was wounded at Antietam, and invalided home. For 15 years he conducted a coal, feed, and general trucking business in Unionville, then retired to live a life of ease for 30 years.
Another example of a monument paid for by a single individual is SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, New London, which was given to the community by Sebastian Duffy Lawrence.
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, was standing by June 23, 1916, according to the Farmington Valley Herald of that date (a postcard says January 29, 1916, but mid-winter seems an unlikely time). Dedication did not occur until Saturday, July 15, 1916. A grand marshall, platoon of police, the Bristol City Band, various veterans organizations numbering 75 veterans, floats, 20 automobiles, and a crowd of 3,000 people were among the participants in the celebration. The principal oration was delivered by William P. Hilton of Hartford, Department Chaplain (Department of Connecticut, Grand Army of the Republic). His eloquent address reviewed the scenes of 50 years ago. Captain Hayden was present and received an ovation for his philanthropy, but was too old and frail to respond. He died a few weeks later, on September 8, 1916.
Captain Hayden presumably wanted his monument in this location because it was central. The street configuration was different at the time; the location chosen for the monument was called the Green. Ownership of the Green by the church was not unusual, as noted in the discussion of SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Kensington in Berlin; SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Haven; and SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Plymouth Green, Plymouth.
Records of the First Church of Christ Congregational, Unionville, indicate that Nathaniel Hayden requested, and was granted, permission to erect the monument on church-owned land. But the church disclaims ownership of the monument, and does not maintain or care for it. Apparently, no one maintains or cares for the monument.
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, is significant artistically for its large size and white Barre granite. The overall design concept of pedestal, shaft, and figures is conventional. The device of two figures standing on extensions of the pedestal was used by Smith Granite Company at BROADWAY CIVIL WAR MONUMENT, New Haven, and SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, New London, and by Melzar H. Mosman at SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Bridgeport.
The Unionville memorial is perhaps unique in the state for its inscription referencing the "heroes clay." It is also unusual for the small amount of lettering; there are no names of individuals, units, or battles, as often found. The small-scale embattled parapet introduces a medieval element in an otherwise restrained classical design approach. The design combination of standard-bearer, castellation, and Grand Army of the Republic badge is repeated in DEFENDERS OF THE FLAG, Plainville.
[R.L.] McGovern Granite Company was a Hartford monument company dealing in cemetery and civic pieces. A successor firm of the same name continues in business. A photograph album prepared by McGovern, ca.1923, gives a synopsis of the firm's activities. The first picture shows its Hartford storefront, with lettering on the plate glass:The McGovern Granite Co.
and three men and one woman standing at the door. Other photographs show a railroad siding with unworked raw stone blocks being unloaded under a sign reading "Artistic Barre Granite Memorials," and several views of the McGovern stone shed where men and machinery are at work. Most of the pages, however, are images of cemetery monuments. Evelyn Beatrice Longman Batchelder's Spanish-American War Memorial exedra in Bushnell Park, Hartford, is shown, indicating that McGovern either supplied or erected this monument.
It is unknown how many of the pieces McGovern sold were cut by the firm in its own shop and how many were sold as agent for a quarry. The firm's 1917 Hartford City Directory listing alluded to "works" in Montpelier, Vermont, which in 1925 had become an "auxiliary plant" in Barre, Vermont. It may be that McGovern had simply changed the quarry for which it was acting as agent. It is likely that the firm did not produce in its own shop the very large pieces, such as SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington. Other large monuments supplied by McGovern include WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Stafford Springs in Stafford, and Major General Joseph Spencer, East Haddam (not a Civil War monument).
SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, is a large memorial consisting of pedestal, shaft, and three figures, fabricated of light gray Barre, Vermont, granite. Two of the figures stand on wings of the pedestal, the third on top of the shaft. The monument faces southeast in a park-like setting at the main intersection of the village of Unionville in Farmington, in front of the First Church of Christ Congregational.
The distinguishing characteristic of the monument is the vertical thrust of its 4'-square pedestal and the two-stage shaft above. The surfaces of the pedestal and shaft are formed as recessed panels. Decorative interest is contributed by fasces moldings between the base and dado and by scotia moldings at the top of the dado. The cornice of the principal stage of the shaft is castellated.
Raised embellishments include the emblem of the G.A.R. (eagle, flag, and five-pointed star) at the bottom of the front (southeast) face of the shaft with crossed rifles above; an anchor, on the northeast face; the G.A.R. badge and crossed cannon on the northwest face; and crossed swords on the southwest.
The pedestal is extended by two 21" x 24" wings which support an infantryman and an artilleryman. The soldier is at rest, with his left foot forward and butt of rifle held to right of, and at a right angle to, his right foot. The left hand is held over the right on the barrel. The infantryman wears an overcoat with cape and waist belt supporting accoutrements. His face is clean-shaven except for a moustache, and he wears a visored cap. The artilleryman's left foot is forward. He wears trousers and an unbuttoned fatigue or sack coat that comes to his waist. His right hand is held upward, grasping the rammer, while his left hand is at his waist, with the thumb hooked over the belt, not in any drill manual position. He wears moustache and forage cap.
The crowning figure is a standard-bearer. With his left foot forward, he wears belted frock coat and flag holder. His left arm is around the colors; his right hand grasps the hilt of his sword, ready to draw to defend his flag.
Front (southeast) face of dado, raised caps:UNIONVILLE HONORS
THAT WRAPS HER
Baruch, p. 13.
Farmington Valley Herald, June 23, 1916, 1:7; June 30, 1916, 1:7; July 14, 1916, 1:7; July 21, 1916; and September 8, 1916, 1:7.
Hartford City Directory, 1917, 1925, p. 1338.
R.L. McGovern Company photograph album, ca.1923. Connecticut Historical Society print room.