Winchester Soldier's Monument - Winsted, CT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member KDubs
N 41° 55.478 W 073° 04.337
18T E 659840 N 4643205
Quick Description: WINCHESTER SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Winsted in Winchester, is a tall square granite Gothic Revival tower located high on a hill overlooking the City of Winsted and the Town of Winchester.
Location: Connecticut, United States
Date Posted: 9/6/2009 5:37:36 PM
Waymark Code: WM75W6
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member silverquill
Views: 13

Long Description:
WINCHESTER SOLDIERS' MONUMENT, Winsted in Winchester, is significant historically because it is a tangible symbol of the honor and respect tendered by the Winchester/Winsted community to its sons who served in the Civil War.

As often was the case, initial impetus for the monument came from the local unit of the Grand Army of the Republic, Palmer Post, No. 33, in Winsted. As early as 1870 the post held a fair that raised $1,078.09 toward the memorial and inaugurated "much bickering" over its eventual location (De Mars, p. 70). A bequest of $1,000 was largely responsible for increasing the fund to $2,574.05 by the mid-l880s.

Then, in the spring of 1887, after years of discussion but little action in the community, the construction program suddenly fell into place. The crucial development was the offer of William L. Gilbert, proprietor of the Gilbert Clock Company, Winsted's largest industry, to donate $4,000 to the monument fund. His offer was declined, for reasons unknown, but the offer and its refusal must have been the subject of much local comment. In any event, John T. Rockwell, who operated a tannery on Main Street, was moved to make a challenge gift of two acres of hilltop land on what is now Crown Street, contingent on the building fund being increased to $7,000. Henry E. Gay, cashier of the Hurlbut National Bank, promptly met the challenge. Others gave an additional $3,000, and the contract was let for construction of the tower. Proposed cost was $7,500, which turned out to be about half the final cost.

The organization to which Rockwell gave the land was the Winchester Soldiers' Memorial Park Association. It appears that this association took active charge of getting the monument built. The General Assembly chartered the Winchester Soldiers' Memorial Park Association by Special Act 239, passed on April 27, 1887. The association was formed to receive donations of land and money and erect a monument or monuments to the memory of soldiers of Winchester in the War of the Rebellion. No funding was provided by the state. The association was effective; it carried out erection of the monument in Winchester Soldiers' Memorial Park. The association continued to own the property until it was transferred to the Town of Winchester in 1909.

Palmer Post, No. 33, at its April 5, 1887, meeting appointed a committee of eight to confer with a "committee of citizens" and authorized the trustees of the post's monument fund "to subscribe the amount in their care to a subscription for a monument when the same may be presented to them." Thus, the G.A.R. turned over the project to the Memorial Park Association.

Unfortunately, the records of the Winchester Soldiers' Memorial Park Association have not come to hand. How much discussion of the monument design had taken place over the years since 1870 is unknown. Moreover, it seems unlikely that the idea of a tower, so well suited to the hilltop site, would have been forthcoming in advance of the gift of the site early in 1887. Consequently, the conjecture is that the choice of design and the selection of architect and sculptor were decisions taken by the Winchester Soldiers' Memorial Park Association in the spring of 1887.

As the monument neared completion, elaborate plans were put in place for Dedication Day on September 11, 1890, and a great day it was indeed. The town was extensively decorated for the event. Four professional decorating firms from Hartford, New Haven, Springfield, Massachusetts, and Brooklyn, New York, for fees ranging from $5.00 to $30.00 per structure, "fairly smothered" the buildings for two miles along Main Street "with festoons of banners, bannerets, with flags and shields" in the national colors of red, white, and blue (The Hartford Courant, September 12, 1890). The crowd on hand for the event was variously estimated at 10,000 to 20,000 people, many of them brought to town by special trains. Before the ceremony, luncheon for 3,000 was served in the rollerskating rink by the collation committee of 80 women

The delegation of visiting dignitaries was led by Governor Morgan G. Bulkeley. In the parade the position of honor was accorded to veterans of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, "The Old Litchfield County," 450 strong. Other participants in the line of march included eight G.A.R. posts, military units, bands, guests, town officials, and 100 carriages. The principal oration at the dedication ceremony was delivered by the Honorable Samuel Fessenden of Stamford, Civil War veteran, lawyer, and politician, who discoursed at length on the debt due those who fought in the holy cause against the slave-holders' rebellion that sought to destroy the Union. The final third of the dedication ceremony had to be cancelled because of rain

In newspaper accounts of the event, the Courant's headline was "WINSTED'S GLORIOUS DAY," while the The Winsted Herald's report began with the words, "Well, it's all over now. It is probable that the monument's dedication was the best attended and most elaborate civic event in the history of Winsted" (The Winsted Herald, September 12, 1890).

In 1983 a campaign to rehabilitate the tower awakened renewed widespread community interest in WINCHESTER SOLDIERS' MONUMENT. In retail establishments throughout the city containers for donations were marked with the legend "Help Restore Our Soldiers' Monument." The fund-raising campaign, planned by ex-mayor Francis "Pete" Hicks, was led by the Winsted Lodge No. 844, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and included such organizations as Kehow Tribe of Red Men, Winsted Fire Department, Girl Scouts, Italian-American Women's Club, Winchester Volunteer Fire Department, Veterans of Foreign Wars Auxiliary, Crystal Rebekah Lodge, Greenwoods Garden Club, Conservation Commission, Catholic Women's Club, Clifton Lodge, Garibaldi Society Auxiliary, and American Association of Retired People. A local Civil War monument commission has continued care of the site.

Front (west) wall of tower, caps incised in stone tablet over front door:

In 1978 a fountain was built near the monument, to its south, designed by Andrew Coppola, sculptor, of Hartford. Construction of the fountain made use of funds accumulated from an 1890 bequest for the purpose. The $1,000 left by Marie Brown in that year for "erecting a suitable fountain to supply water to preserve the natural beauty of the (Memorial) Park grounds" had earned $18,000 in compounded interest over the years. These funds were augmented by a $3,000 grant from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

The basin of the fountain is 18' in diameter and 3' high. In its center a truncated cone supports a section of a sphere on which rests a crescent. The cone and sphere are fashioned of Westerly, Rhode Island, red mahogany granite and the crescent from gray/black basalt. The basin is concrete. In the hydraulics planned for the fountain, a nozzle in the crescent was designed to spray an aerated ball of water/mist, but the hydraulics system never has been fully operational. Landscaping and walkways radiating from the fountain, designed to integrate it with the monument and site as a whole, never were executed.

- Description taken from Civil War Monuments of Connecticut Site (in related website link)
Date Installed or Dedicated: 9/11/1890

Name of Government Entity or Private Organization that built the monument: Winchester Soldiers' Memorial Park Association and Palmer Post #33 of the Grand Army of the Republic

Union, Confederate or Other Monument: Other or General Civil War

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