| Woodbury |
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| ||SOLDIERS' MONUMENT |
383 Main Street, South
Dedicated: September 26, 1871
Type: Granite aedicula and obelisk
Architect: Robert W. Hill
Fabricator and supplier: Plymouth Granite Company
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Woodbury, is significant historically because it is a symbol of the honor and respect paid by the community to its men who died in the Civil War. The Woodbury Soldiers' Monument Association was formed in 1866. A special town meeting was held on October 3, 1870, for the purpose of appropriating town money to build a monument. Moderator of the meeting was William Cothren, author of the 1872 History of Ancient Woodbury. It was proposed to draw the sum of $1,000 from the treasury, to be used with $1,500 already raised by the Association. The vote was 158 for, 61 against.
Dedication Day ceremonies on September 26, 1871, gave special attention to surviving soldiers and relatives of the deceased. As the procession made its way, the entire street, some 200 feet wide, was packed from fence to fence. Cothren was president of the day and delivered the first speech, invoking solemn awe to honor the martyred dead. Colonel Augustus A. Fenn, who spoke at several Dedications Days, was next. His remarks were interrupted by a thunderstorm. Young women dressed in white then unveiled the monument. A suitable collation followed.
The cannon on the site do not show in the historic picture. They no doubt were added later. According to one town tradition, they came from a battleship. It may be more likely that they were among the hundreds distributed to towns by the federal government about the time of World War I.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Woodbury, is significant artistically because it is an early (1871) example of a Civil War monument with classical design elements. The design is not surprising because it is the work of architect Robert W. Hill (1828-1909) of Waterbury, who was well-trained and up-to-date. As a young man, Hill studied architecture with the renowned Henry Austin in New Haven and worked briefly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The balance of his life he spent in Waterbury, where he was the city's leading 19th-century architect. His many commissions included the Connecticut state armory at Waterbury, the courthouse at Litchfield, the Thomaston Opera House, and buildings at Taft School, Watertown, as well as WINCHESTER SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Crown Street, Winsted in Winchester. The flat elements in the pediment and the diamond motifs in the pilasters suggest that the Italianate style is referenced by this work.
The fabricator was Plymouth Granite Company, also of Waterbury, B.P. Chatfield, President. (See CHATFIELD MONUMENT, Waterbury.) The stone came from the firm's quarry in Plymouth. The fact that Chatfield was a Connecticut proprietor of both a quarry and a stonecutting facility for production of Civil War monuments makes his circumstance parallel, in a modest way, with that of James G. Batterson.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Woodbury, appears to be identical in design to SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Kent, perhaps in a different stone.
SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Woodbury, is sited in the middle of the long narrow Green oriented north-south in a residential neighborhood. The monument faces west, toward the highway, instead of north or south, making its axis perpendicular to that of the Green. The monument consists of a high base, pedimented dado or aedicula, and obelisk shaft. It is dedicated to Woodbury men who died in the Civil War.
The plinth of the monument and the base of the dado are both square-cut stones, 20" and 14" high, respectively. High shrubbery obscures lettering on the west face of the base. A strong cyma molding makes the transition to the dado, 3' square at the base and 3', 10" high, which is designed with flanking fluted pilasters on scrolled bases. The fluting is broken half way up each pilaster by a diamond, while each pilaster capital carries a star. There is little in the way of architrave or frieze in support of the low pediment. The lines of the pediment are horizontal on either side of the central peak. The faces of the dado are polished surfaces listing the names of 46 men. Because the lettering is incised in a polished surface, it is difficult to read. The base of the shaft, 3' square and 2', 7" high, is rounded at the top. On the front the Seal of Connecticut is raised under the rounded line. There is a heavy torus molding at the bottom of the 20'-high shaft, which is slightly tapered and terminates in a pyramid.
Two cannon are on the Green, one north of the monument, the other south. They are identical iron guns 10', 3" long, 71" girth at the breech, with 6 1/2" inside diameter at the muzzle, on iron stands. The flat surface of the muzzle of the north gun is incised I B N 44, the south I B N 93.
Front (west) face of dado base, incised caps:IN MEMORY OF WOODBURY SOLDIERS / WHO DIED IN THE REBELLION OF 1861
Above, dado, caps incised in polished surface:(names of 1 first lieutenant, 2 second lieutenants, 4 sergeants, with dates of death ranging from 1863 to 1865)
South:(8 corporals, 4 privates)
East:(13 privates, with year of death as early as 1862)
William Cothren, History of Ancient Woodbury, Connecticut (Woodbury: 1872), pp. 1296 ff.
Catherine L. Stilson, "Roxbury's Historian as Sam Spade In [sic] the Case of the Missing Cannon," The Litchfield County Times, July 1, 1994.
"Woodbury Soldiers Monument," The Newtown Bee, July 3, 1959, p. D-5.