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| || WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT |
4 Spring Street (behind)
Stafford Springs in Stafford, CT
Dedicated: May 30, 1924
Type: Granite shaft with bronze female figure in front
Donor: Colonel Charles Warren
Supplier: McGovern Granite Company
Sculptor: F. Wellington Ruckstull
Height: Approximately 31'
WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Stafford Springs in Stafford, is significant historically because it was the gift of an individual, Colonel Charles Warren (1835-1920). In this respect it joins SOLDIERS AND SAILORS MONUMENT, New London, and SOLDIER'S MONUMENT, East End Park, Winsted in Winchester, among others.
The term SOLDIERS MONUMENT was specifically used in the dedication program of May 30, 1924, not the words Civil War monument. In this case no soldier is depicted and the word soldier does not appear in the lettering. Nevertheless, this was a SOLDIERS' MONUMENT.
Charles Warren (1835-1920), the donor, who was born and died in Stafford, had a distinguished military career that extended for the entire four years of the war. He enlisted as a private in October 1861, soon became a sergeant, and rose through the ranks of commissioned officers as he served in a continuous series of campaigns. He led his regiment into Richmond in April 1865. After the war, Warren opened a general store in Stafford under the name of Ellis, Warren & Company, and engaged in other successful business activities. He was president of the Stafford Savings Bank, built the Warren Block downtown, and gave to the town Warren Memorial Hall, which was dedicated January 31, 1924.
In providing $25,000 for the Civil War memorial in his will, Warren used the term Soldiers Monument. Since the term was one familiar to Warren during his adult years in the 19th century, its association with the Stafford Springs memorial may be considered to be 19th-century usage rather than representative of the 1920s. He directed that the design, location, and erection of the monument be handled by a group made up of his executors, town selectmen, and a committee from the Winter Post, No. 44, of the Grand Army of the Republic. Names on the dedication program indicate that his wishes were followed.
WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Stafford Springs in Stafford, is significant artistically because it is a late example of classical design and sculpture, with Art Deco overtones. The stylobate, wreath, torches, and swags all reference classical architecture, while the allegorical figure is consistent with classical sculpture of the mid-19th century school of Rome.
The allegorical meaning of the components of the female figure are enumerated by the dedication program. The figure is named America Remembers or The Spirit of Decoration Day. The wreath of forget-me-nots symbolizes immortality. The flowers in her arm include palms for glory, roses for love, and poppies for eternal rest, the whole bringing honor and tribute to the dead. The WARREN allegorical figure is in the tradition of those used in 19th-century Civil War monuments, such as The Goddess of Liberty of SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Bridgeport, 1876, and The Angel of Peace of SOLDIERS' AND SAILORS' MONUMENT, East Rock Park, New Haven, 1894.
At the same time, the clean lines of the stylobate and shaft and the classical references of torches and swags evoke a sense of the beginning of the Art Deco, which used classical motifs in simplified forms. The shaft's hemisphere top is both a classical element and a suggestion of the forthcoming rounded lines of Art Moderne. The monument is unusual in its combination of motifs and trends, very late for allegory, quite early for Art Deco.
The sculptor, F. Wellington Ruckstull (1853-?), who was born in Breitenbach, Alsace, came to American at age two. He grew up in St, Louis, then returned to Academie Julian in Paris where he studied traditional sculpture, rejecting the avant-garde. He won a grand medal at the Chicago Exposition of 1893. His work, which tended to be large and allegorical, included a bronze Victory, heroic in size, for the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, Jamaica, Long Island, New York, 1896, and other Civil War monuments. He was in charge of the sculpture program for the Admiral George Dewey Arch, New York City, and for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, St. Louis.
In delivering remarks entitled "Art of the Monument" at the dedication in Stafford Springs, Ruckstull said that the domed top of the monument symbolizes vision towards the stars in accordance with the purpose of art, which is to inspire; the bronze eagle symbolizes the Spirit of America; and the statue represents America in remembrance, emphasizing that America does not forget, but remembers those who served in the hour of need. Similarly, the wreaths are symbolic of glory, sleep, love, and eternity. This analysis of sculpture by Ruckstull reveals his embrace of mid-19th-century art interpretation, quite unusual for the 1920s.
McGovern Granite Company of Hartford is designated by the dedication program as "designer and builder" of the monument. See SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Unionville in Farmington, for details about the firm. Whether McGovern actually designed and produced the monument or acted as agent for, or as collaborator with, a Barre quarry is not clear.
WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Stafford Springs in Stafford, is located at the entrance to 87-acre Hyde Park in downtown Stafford Springs, behind the library. The portion of the park near the library is narrow; the monument is in the middle of a small space between the roadway leading into the park and the Middle River. The usual lettering dedicating the monument to all who served or those who died in the Civil War is not present.
The monument consists of base, tall square granite shaft, bronze female figure in front of the shaft, and bronze eagle on top. The shaft rests on a stylobate of three risers in the Greek tradition. A torus molding makes the change from stylobate to shaft. The stylobate is extended in front to accommodate the pedestal of the figure, which projects from the shaft. The tall shaft consists of nine courses of stone, each a single square piece about two feet thick.
A vertical classical torch adorns the top of each of the four sides of the shaft. On the front and back the torch divides the lettering recorded below. Transition from the vertical section of the shaft to its rounded top is accomplished by an octagonal stone embellished with small swags on the chamfers. A hemisphere surmounts the shaft. On it a small octagonal fixture with curved sides supports a sphere on which is perched an eagle whose wings are held wide and up.
The classical female figure in front of the shaft is clothed in flowing robes and sandals. She holds a wreath in her left hand and flowers in her left arm. Her right arm is bent, bringing the hand up to the right cheek. Her head is tilted to the right but she is looking to the left. The mantle or stole worn over her head extends down to become a cloak. The statue is now entirely black, an indication of surface corrosion.
Base of figure, left rear, incised u.c. and l.c.:F.W. Ruckstull / Sculp 1922
Front (east) face of base of pedestal, incised caps:THE GIFT OF COLONEL CHARLES WARREN
TO THE TOWN OF HIS NATIVITY
Face of pedestal of figure, in laurel wreath, raised caps:1861 / 1865
Front face of top square course of shaft, incised caps:ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE
WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICEFOR ALL
Rear face of top square course of shaft, incised caps:ONE NATION INDIVISIBLE
WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE
Baruch, p. 18.
"Dedication of WARREN SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Stafford Springs, Connecticut, May 30, 1924." Stafford Historical Society.
Donald Martin Reynolds, Monuments and Masterpieces (New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1988), p. 235.
The [Stafford Springs] Press, May 22, 1924, p. 1; May 29, 1924, p. 1; and June 5, 1924, p. 1.