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Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

By October 16, 2023January 31st, 2024No Comments

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, Hartford, Connecticut:

This unique edifice honors 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in the American Civil War, including 400 who died for the Union cause. It’s the first permanent triumphal arch built in America. In 1884, awarded the commission to the Hartford-based architect George Keller. Keller produced an eclectic design with Norman towers and a Gothic Revival arch with a classical frieze and statues modeled by Albert Entress, a sculptor from Switzerland. Mostly made of brownstone quarried from Portland, Connecticut, the arch was completed in 1886 at a cost of about $60,000, and was dedicated on September 17, 1886.

The north frieze, sculpted by Samuel James Kitson, tells a story of war; a figure of General Ulysses S. Grant surveying his troops and marines leaping from a boat to rush Confederate troops. The south frieze, sculpted by Caspar Buberl, tells a story of peace; the central female allegorical figure represents the City of Hartford, surrounded by her citizens and victorious soldiers. The Boston Terra Cotta Company fabricated the frieze and statuary.

Four military services are symbolized in the spandrels: an anchor for the Navy, a crossed cannon for the Artillery, crossed sabers for the Cavalry and crossed rifles for the Infantry. Six sculptural figures adorn the tower: a farmer, a blacksmith, a mason, a student, a carpenter and an African-American breaking the chains of bondage. Two angels, Gabriel and Raphael, sit atop the towers, one a trumpeter, the other a cymbalist, both facing south to welcome returning troops.

During a restoration from 1986 to 1988, the original terra cotta angels were removed and replaced with copies in bronze after one of them was struck by lightning. The 1980’s restoration was led by architect Dominick C. Cimino using $1.5 million in state funds.

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