| Seymour |
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| || SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
French Memorial Park
62 Spruce Street
Dedicated: June 11, 1904
Type: Granite Choragic monument of Lysicrates and figure
Supplier: Fox-Becker Granite Company
Height: Approximately 25'
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Seymour, is significant historically because it is the tangible symbol of the desire of the Seymour community to honor and pay respects to its men who served in the Union armed forces during the Civil War. The first meeting of the Citizens' Monument committee was held May 1, 1903, at which time decision was made to go ahead with erection of a monument in Barre granite at a cost of not more than $3,000. The first donation, in the amount of $100, came from the Upson Post, Grand Army of the Republic. The Woman's Relief Corps donated $700.
Suitable ceremonies were held on Dedication Day, June 11, 1904. Music was provided by the Ansonia Brass Band and the Concordia Singing Society. One of the orators for the occasion was Charles H. Pine, who was the donor of SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, East End Park, Winsted in Winchester.
Final cost came to $2935, a low figure for a monument of such large size, intricate detail, and high quality. The committee, pleased with the result as well it might be, wrote to the supplier as follows:
Seymour, Conn., April 6, 1904.
The Fox-Becker Granite Co. Middletown, Conn.
Gentlemen: - We wish to express our appreciation of the very satisfactory business dealings which we, the committee for the purchase of the Seymour Soldiers' Monument, have had with your firm. We realize that you have placed at the disposal of this committee not only your wide experience in designing work of this kind, but also every facility of your superior equipment as manufacturers. We feel that the monument is fully up to contract in every particular, and should be not only a source of pride to the citizens of Seymour and the committee, but also a great credit to your firm.
Thanking you for your many courtesies in this matter, we are, Yours truly, THE SEYMOUR SOLDIERS' MONUMENT COMMITTEE,
Per James Swan, Chairman. Attest: W.C. Sharpe, Secretary.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Seymour, is significant artistically because it is the only Connecticut monument dedicated exclusively to the Civil War that is patterned after the Choragic monument of Lysicrates (Athens, 334 B.C.). Another public monument of similar design, although not to the Civil War, the Bennett Fountain, followed four years later, in 1907, on the New Haven Green. SOLDIERS AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, Stamford, 1923, a monument to several wars, also uses the peristyle design.
Another element of significance associated with SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Seymour, is the surviving record of some of the sequence of its design development, an unusual circumstance for a Civil War monument. The artwork approved by the selection committee shows a soldier with his left hand at his head and musket held at an angle to his right. No figure of this description is known to have been executed in Connecticut. This artwork was used on the Dedication Day program, even though the actual monument has a soldier in a more conventional parade rest position.
What prompted the classical model of Lysicrates is not known, other than the fact that the Neo-Classical Revival, popularized in part by the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893, was in full swing early in the 20th century. The design was selected by a group representing the Grand Army of the Republic, the Woman's Relief Corps, and the Citizens' Monument committee, but the circumstances and rationale surrounding the selection are not known. The supplier was Fox-Becker Granite Company of Middletown, which continues in business today. Fox-Becker is said to have owned, or cooperated closely with, quarries at Barre, Vermont, and also to have worked with granite from Westerly, Rhode Island, and Quincy, Massachusetts; records of a planning committee meeting indicate that Barre granite was used for the Seymour work.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Seymour is located in French Memorial Park, which is sited at a high elevation on the eastern escarpment above the Naugatuck River. The granite monument, closely surrounded by shade trees, consists of granite cylindrical base, pedestal, and peristyle after the manner of the Choragic monument of Lysicrates. It is topped by the granite figure of a soldier and encircled by an iron fence. The monument honors all from Seymour who served in the war.
The fence of wrought-iron pickets is 4', 10" tall. The intersections of the tops of the pickets and the upper rail are marked by short diagonal crosspieces. Within the fence a base of three risers supports the pedestal. The die of the pedestal provides the surface for the field of lettering. The peristyle's six columns feature rosettes in their capitals. Originally, three stacked rifles stood within the area of the peristyle. (The rifles were stolen, but recovered, and are now in the possession of the Seymour Historical Society, Inc.) Above its entablature a section of diminishing diameter supports a second die which is enriched with robustly carved garlands and ribbons.
The soldier faces south on a round base with his left foot forward. The butt of his rifle is perpendicular to this foot. Both hands grasp the rifle barrel. He wears an overcoat with cape, a moustache, and visored hat.
Three of four corner positions around the monument are occupied by 11', 4"-long cannon mounted on cut stone. The fourth corner has a triangular pile of cannonballs, on a cut stone base. Since the cannon and cannonballs appear in a ca.1905 postcard, they presumably are part of the original site arrangement.
South (front) side of pedestal die, raised caps:THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED
BY THE CITIZENS OF SEYMOUR
IN HONORED MEMORY OF THE
DEFENDERS OF OUR COUNTRY
In frieze of peristyle, raised caps:ANTIETAM GETTYSBURG JAMES ISLAND ATLANTA
"Art Memorials," publication of The Fox-Becker Granite Company, Middletown, Connecticut, and Barre, Vermont, n.d. (ca.1906).
"Dedication of the Soldiers' Monument, Seymour, Conn., Saturday, June 11, 1904."
Mrs. David N. Kummer, Curator, Seymour Historical Society, Inc., letter, May 14, 1994.
Postcard, ca.1905. Seymour Historical Society.