| North Branford |
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| || SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
1680 Foxon Road
North Branford, CT
Dedicated: April 12, 1866
Type: Granite obelisk
Supplier: Burdick & Company
Finisher and letterer: Greene & Turner
Height: Approximately 25'
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Branford, is significant historically because of its early date, 1866. The movement to build the monument was begun soon after the declaration of peace in 1865, when $2,000 was raised for the purpose. Rockey asserts that "it was the first monument in the United States erected to the memory of those soldiers who fought and died for the Union" (p. 95), but SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Kensington in Berlin, 1863, and SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Bristol, January 20, 1866, are older.
The land on which the monument stands, Town Green, is owned by the North Branford Congregational Church. Prior to 1818, when the Congregational Church was disestablished, church and state were one; the land near the church was often a common or green, under the ownership of the single state/church entity. Such circumstance was common in Connecticut. In some instances, over the years, the church has specifically given up claim to ownership of the green (see SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Haven); elsewhere the issue remains in doubt (see SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Branford). More commonly, the question is not directly addressed, as in North Branford; the town helps with maintenance while leaving ownership of the land with the church. The question of who owns the monument, by tacit consent, does not arise.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Branford, is significant artistically because it is a well-proportioned monument depending for its notable aesthetic success on the fundamentals of its design, rather than embellishment. The desired effect is achieved with considerable success.
The monument in its basic shape was supplied by Burdick & Company of Westerly, Rhode Island. Burdick's similar contemporary SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Norfolk, is another example of the same essentially well-proportioned design. Finishing and lettering were done by Greene & Turner of Stony Creek, the location of a quarry in Branford that is the source of pink granite. The local firm was used for workmanship, but not for its stone. Since there are no Connecticut Civil War monuments of pink granite (see SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, Guilford), the inference is that the color was not considered to be appropriate. Rockey states that the stone for the monument came from Stony Creek, but the appearance of stone favors Miller's account that it came from Westerly and was finished by a Stony Creek firm.
The completeness of the biographical data in the lettering on the shaft is to be noted. Seldom are the name, unit, place of death, and age of the individual all given, as they are here.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, North Branford, is an early light gray granite obelisk, simple and tall, dedicated to North Branford men who died in the Civil War. It is located on the small triangular Town Green adjacent to the Congregational Church. A flagpole and three war memorial plaques are on the site.
The monument rests on a base or slab of concrete or stone, that is flush with grade; since there is no record of the monument having been moved, it probably is stone. The plinth serves as the base for the die or dado, which in turn supports the shaft. The tapered shaft is stepped at the bottom, and has a pyramidal top.
Three boulders with bronze plaques are in the green. One memorializes those who served in the World War, 1917-1918. The second lists four columns of names of those who served in World War II, 1941-1945. The third gives the names of those who lost their lives in World War II.
Front (southeast) face of dado, raised caps in recessed panel:OUR
Base of shaft, raised caps:1865
Northeast face of dado, incised caps:(2 names, each with unit, place and date of death, and age)
Southwest face of dado:(2 names as above)
Northwest face:(3 names)
Herbert C. Miller, The History of North Branford and Northford, p. 54.
J.L. Rockey, History of New Haven County, v. II (New York: W.W. Preston & Co., 1892), p. 95.