view large image
| SOLDIERS' MONUMENT
Manon A. Munson Memorial Park
20 DeForest Street
Dedicated: October 10, 1908
Type: Granite column with bronze plaques and surmounting bronze eagle
Designer, fabricator, and supplier: Thomas Phillips & Son Company
Foundries: John Williams and American Bronze Foundry Company
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of honor and respect offered by the community to its sons who died in the Civil War. In the order of exercises on Dedication Day, which featured the American Band, the monument first was presented by the Monument Association to the Wadhams Post, No. 49, Grand Army of the Republic, then by the G.A.R. to the town. Following these formalities, three preliminary speakers preceded the principal address by Major General O.O. Howard.
The Wadhams Post, which drew its members from the two nearby cities of Waterbury and Watertown, participated in the planning of SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Waterbury, as well as SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, is also significant historically because one of its plaques mentions the "Twenty Ninth [sic] Colored Regiment," perhaps the only Civil War Monument to do so. Other monuments, such as SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Weatogue in Simsbury, and SMITH GATEWAY, Niantic in East Lyme, recognize African American participation but in a less formal manner. See essay for discussion of service by Connecticut African Americans in the Civil War.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, is significant artistically because it is a classical column with modified Corinthian capital, reflecting the growing acceptance of the Neo-Classical Revival which was popularized by the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, is a complete break from the typical 19th-century Civil War monument of pedestal with figure on top.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, is unusually large and boldly executed. It is also one of the best documented designs of all Connecticut Civil War monuments. The design is bold because it is a classical round column instead of the usual square shaft or obelisk, and because the carving of the wreaths, flags, and capital is strongly three-dimensional.
Creation of the monument is well-documented in the records of Thomas Phillips & Son Company, in the collections of the New Haven Colony Historical Society. The Phillips family firm was in business in New Haven through several generations from mid-19th century to ca.1990. Many shelf feet of company records deposited at the historical society include 30 boxes of orders and correspondence, 8/10 boxes of index cards, two dozen "Day Book" ledgers, and more, the particulars of the Watertown job among them. There is a sketch of the monument and a detailed listing of expenditures.
The Phillips company records yield a fascinating case history of how the job was planned and executed. Phillips prepared the design, then bought components from others and assembled them. The largest single expense was $1,585.70 for the stonework, executed by Guidici Bros. & Company of Barre, Vermont, using stone specified by Phillips. On January 29, 1907, Guidici quoted a price for Soldiers' Monument base, die, column, and ball of $1500. A letter from Guidici dated February 15, 1907, says, "You may send your plans for parts of Soldiers' Monument" as soon as you can, to be E.L. Smith & Co.'s stock, "no surface stock." Apparently, Smith was the quarry, and the reference to no surface stock was a quality control provision.
American Bronze Foundry Company, 73rd Street and Woodlawn Avenue, New York City, on March 1, 1907, quoted $750.00 for a bronze eagle (Phillips to provide plaster model), with two bronze rods attached to fasten the eagle to the granite ball. This price was high, because the expenditures list shows that John Williams Foundry furnished the eagle for $375. American Bronze supplied the plaques.
Thomas' price to its client, the Soldiers' Monument Association of Watertown, was $5,000.
Cumulatively, the foregoing details give a well-rounded, and rare, picture of how a monument was planned and executed, adding significantly to an understanding of the monument business. Whether such arrangements were also followed by other Connecticut suppliers in the trade, such as Stephen Maslen Corporation, Hartford, and Fox-Becker Granite Company, Middletown, cannot be known for sure, but seems likely.
For another Civil War monument supplied by Thomas Phillips & Son Company, see SOLDIERS MONUMENT, Wallingford.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Watertown, is sited in the middle of Munson Park, which is elevated some 10'/12' above SR 6 at the top of Main Street, near town hall. The memorial is a tall round granite column on octagonal die topped by Corinthian capital and bronze eagle. Facing southeast, the memorial is dedicated to those Watertown men who "offered their lives" in Civil War service.
The monument's base of four risers is almost totally obscured by evergreen plantings, which make it difficult to approach and view the plaques. The top corners of the dado base are finished with large lamb's tongue stops, as the start of the transition from square base to round column. The dado is octagonal (with plaques on alternate faces) in further transition from square to round cross section. The lower half of the column is embellished with two draped flags over three wreaths. The wreaths are in unusually high-relief. The capital features the Shield of the United States between its volutes (see also SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, St. Bernard Cemetery, New Haven). The capital is surmounted by a granite sphere on which is perched a 170-pound bronze eagle of 6', 8" wingspread.
There are four bronze plaques on the die, stating the dedication to the men of Watertown who "offered their lives" and recording the names of 130 individuals, arranged by units. One of the units is the "Twenty Ninth [sic] Colored Regiment." The front (southeast) plaque in raised caps reads:IN COMMEMORATION
OF THE PATRIOTISM AND VALOR
OF THE MEN OF
WHO, IN THE HOUR OF PERIL,
OFFERED THEIR LIVES THAT THE
REPUBLIC MIGHT LIVE, THUS
WINNING THE GRATITUDE OF THEIR
FELLOW-CITIZENS, THE ADMIRATION
OF SUCCEEDING GENERATIONS AND
A PLACE AMONG THE NATION'S
HEROES; THIS MONUMENT IS ERECTED
THAT THEIR EXAMPLE MAY SERVE
AS AN INSPIRATION TO HEROIC
DEEDS IN ALL COMING TIME.
Year dates 1861-1865 are above the plaques, and battle names are raised in a band half-way up the column.
"Dedication of Soldiers Monument, Watertown, Connecticut, Sunday, October 10th, 1908," dedication program in possession of author.
"Memorials of Marble Granite and Allied Stones for the Church Cemetery and Public Buildings" (New Haven: Thomas Phillips & Son Company, 1931). New Haven Colony Historical Society.
Records of Thomas Phillips & Son Company. New Haven Colony Historical Society.