Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch (1886)

March 1st, 2008 Posted in Gothic, Hartford, Monuments

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When the city of Hartford chose to have an arch over a bridge (which once crossed the Park River, now underground) as its Civil War monument, it was seeking a design quite different from the usual types of Civil War monuments. It would be the first permanent triumphal arch in America. It is also one of the earliest monuments to use the term “Civil War.” A competition was announced, which irritated the architect George Keller–as a famous designer of Civil War monuments, he was unhappy not to be commissioned or even consulted. As all of the submitted designs went over budget, Keller was eventually able to reconcile with the city and plan the monument. The structure he created still remains a unique achievement for combining Classical and Gothic elements in a unified design. It is Keller’s most famous project (along with the James A. Garfield Memorial in Cleveland, Ohio). The monument, located on the edge of Hartford’s Bushnell Park, was built of Portland brownstone and was dedicated on September 17, 1886, the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. The ashes of Keller and his wife were later interred in the east tower. The Arch was restored in 1986-1988, but has sometimes suffered damage due to cars crashing into it.

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