Civil War Monument, Westfield, Mass

The Civil War monument at Park Square in Westfield, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2018:

Westfield’s Civil War monument is located here at the southwest corner of Park Square, on a traffic island at the end of Court Street. It was an early work by noted sculptor Melzar Hunt Mosman, a native of Chicopee, Massachusetts. He was a Civil War veteran, and he went on to have a successful career, specializing in Civil War monuments during the late 19th century. This statue here in Westfield was dedicated on May 31, 1871, and it memorialized the 66 Westfield residents who died in the war. The model for the soldier atop the monument was Captain Andrew Campbell of Westfield, with whom Mosman had served in the 46th Regiment during the war.

The keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony was General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick, a Civil War officer from New Jersey who had recently returned from a four-year stint as the U. S. Minister to Chile. In his speech, he praised the bravery and dedication of the soldiers from Massachusetts. He reminded the audience of the righteousness of the Union cause, while also denouncing the treason and atrocities of the Confederacy. In particular, he rebuked former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, declaring him to be “the arch-traitor who long since should have passed from a scaffold to an unhallowed grave.” At this point, the audience interrupted his speech with applause, and after he finished his thoughts on Davis, they responded with “great cheering,” according to the Springfield Republican account of the speech.

Aside from General Kilpatrick, the ceremony also included short speeches from Lieutenant Governor Joseph Tucker and three Civil War officers from Massachusetts: Brigadier General Henry Shaw Briggs of Pittsfield, Brevet Brigadier General William Sever Lincoln of Worcester, and Colonel Joseph B. Parsons of Northampton. Reverend Henry Hopkins, a Civil War chaplain who served as pastor of the Second Congregational Church in Westfield, gave the opening prayer and also read a poem. The ceremony was presided over by District Attorney Edward Bates Gillett, who made brief opening remarks and later introduced Mosman to the crowd after the statue was unveiled.

The first photo was taken about 20 years later, at a time when the Civil War was still within the living memory of many Westfield residents. It shows the view of the statue from the north, and in the background of the photo is the Morgan Block. This brick commercial building was already old by this point, having been constructed around the late 1810s by Major Archippus Morgan. He ran a general store here, while also renting space in the building to other retail tenants. Later in the 19th century, the building briefly served as the first home of the Westfield YMCA, and over the years it was used by a variety of other businesses, eventually becoming commercial offices in the first half of the 20th century.

Today, more than 125 years after the first photo was taken, remarkably little has changed in this scene. The monument has remained a landmark here in downtown Westfield, with few changes aside from the shrubbery at the base and the blue-green patina on the bronze surfaces. The Morgan Block is also still standing in the background. It has seen minor exterior alterations, including the addition of a dormer window on the left side and a bay window on the first floor of the right side, but overall it stands as a rare surviving example of an early 19th century commercial block here in Westfield.

Lafayette Statue, Washington, DC

The Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette statue in Lafayette Square, opposite the White House in Washington, D.C., around 1900-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The statue in 2018:

Lafayette Square has been parkland since Washington, D.C. was laid out in the 1790s, but it did not receive its current name until 1824, when it was dedicated in honor of the Marquis de Lafayette. It is located directly to the north of the White House, on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, and during the 19th century the other streets around the square became one of Washington’s most desirable residential areas.

The first statue in the square was, ironically, not of Lafayette. Instead, it was an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, which was dedicated in 1853 in the center of the park. This statue of Lafayette, located in the southeast corner of the square, was not added until 1891. Officially titled Major General Marquis Gilbert de Lafayette, the 36-foot statue was the work of French sculptor Alexandre Falguière. Lafayette stands atop the pedestal, but the monument also includes figures of four other French military leaders of the American Revolution: Comte d’Estaing and Comte de Grasse on the right, and Comte de Rochambeau and the Chevalier Duportail on the left side. In the center, looking up at Lafayette, is a female figure representing America.

The first photo was taken within about 10 to 15 years after the Lafayette statue was dedicated. Around this time, it was joined by three more statues, with one on each of the other three corners of the square. Like the Lafayette statue, these all honored prominent foreign leaders of the American Revolution, starting with Rochambeau in 1902 and followed by statues of Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in 1910.

In more than a century since the first photo was taken, the area surrounding Lafayette Square has undergone significant changes. Many early 19th century townhouses are still standing, but they are no longer used as private residences, and they are now joined by more recent government buildings. However, the square itself is not much different from its early 20th century appearance, and all five statues still stand here, including the Lafayette one that is shown here. These statues are now part of the Lafayette Square Historic District, which was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1970.

Abraham Lincoln Statue, Washington, DC

The statue of Abraham Lincoln inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, around 1921-1922. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, National Photo Company Collection.

The statue in 2018:

The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in 1922,and over the years it has become one of the most recognizable features of Washington, DC. The monument is designed like a Greek temple, and on the interior is a 30-foot-tall marble statue of Lincoln, who is seated and facing east toward the Washington Monument and the United States Capitol. It was designed by prominent sculptor Daniel Chester French, who had, nearly a half century earlier, designed the iconic Minute Man statue in Concord, Massachusetts. French would go on to create other important sculptures before his death in 1931, but this Abraham Lincoln statue would prove to be his magnum opus.

The first photo apparently shows a couple of workers putting the finishing touches on the statue, and it would have been taken sometime shortly before the memorial’s dedication. Nearly a century later, nothing of substance has changed in this scene. The statue is still here, as is the inscription above it, which was written by Royal Cortissoz. Elsewhere inside the memorial are inscriptions of Lincoln’s two most famous speeches: the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural address. As the 2018 photo shows, the Lincoln Memorial remains one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, drawing more than seven million visitors each year.

Soldiers’ Monument, Brattleboro, Vermont

The Civil War monument and bandstand on the town common in Brattleboro, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2017:

Civil War monuments are a near-ubiquitous feature of almost every town common across the country, and Brattleboro is no exception. Dedicated in 1887, the Brattleboro Soldiers’ Monument has a granite base, with bronze plaques on all four sides and an eight-foot-tall bronze infantryman on top. As indicated on one of the plaques, the monument was to commemorate “the loyalty and patriotism of the men of Brattleboro, who fought for liberty and the union in the great rebellion of 1861-1865.” According to the plaque, the town had a total of 381 residents who served in the war, 31 of whom died.

The monument was built at a cost of $6,000, and the June 17, 1887 dedication ceremony drew a number of dignitaries here to the common. It was presided over by Frederick Holbrook, a Brattleboro native who served as governor for the first two years of the war, and whose father once lived in a house across the street from the common. The dedication speech was given by James R. Tanner, a Civil War veteran who had lost both of his legs at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Tanner was the stenographer who had been summoned to Abraham Lincoln’s deathbed in order to record eyewitness testimonies from the assassination, and he later went on to become Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, serving from 1905 to 1906. Aside from Holbrook and Tanner, other dignitaries included Governor Ebenezer J. Ormsbee, and Brattleboro resident Colonel George W. Hooker, who was later awarded the Medal of Honor for single-handedly capturing 116 Confederate soldiers during the Battle of Crampton’s Gap in 1862.

The dedication ceremony drew about 5,000 people to the common, but an even larger crowd – estimated at 8,000 – gathered here on September 1, 1902, when Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech during a presidential tour of Vermont. This took place only a few years before the first photo was taken, and Roosevelt spoke from the bandstand in the center of the photo, just to the right of the monument. The president was accompanied by a number of notable Vermonters, including Frederick Holbrook, then-Governor William W. Stickney, federal judge Hoyt H. Wheeler, and U.S. Attorney James L. Martin, whom Roosevelt would later appoint as Wheeler’s successor on the bench. Roosevelt was escorted here from the train station, spoke from the bandstand for about 15 minutes, and was presented with a bouquet of roses. He was then escorted back to the station, and from there he traveled south across the border to Northfield, Massachusetts, where he spent the night at the Northfield Hotel.

Today, more than a century after the first photo was taken, this scene has not significantly changed. The old bandstand was evidently replaced at some point, and a different gazebo now stands on the site. Along with this, the cannon and shot are now gone, and its approximate location is now a picnic table. Otherwise, though, this site continues to be used as the town common, and the Soldiers’ Monument still stands here, now accompanied by a second memorial to the Brattleboro residents who were killed in World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

Wells Fountain, Brattleboro, Vermont

The Wells Fountain, at the corner of Putney Road and Linden Street in Brattleboro, around 1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2017:

The Wells Fountain has been a feature here in the center of Brattleboro since 1890, when it was given to the town by William Henry Wells, a New York businessman who had grown up in Brattleboro. The fountain was originally located about 20 feet from here, but it was moved to its current site in 1906. The first photo appears to have been taken shortly before this move, because the photo shows it closer to the street than it is now, so the original location was probably on the far left side of the present-day photo.

The fountain was the the work of William Rutherford Mead, a noted architect who, like Wells, was a Brattleboro native who moved to New York as an adult. Mead was a cousin of President Rutherford B. Hayes, whose family also had roots in Brattleboro, and he was a partner in the prominent architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White. Mead did not have the same architectural genius of his two partners, Charles Follen McKim and Stanford White, and he designed few works on his own. Instead, his talents were as an office manager, serving as a stable, practical-minded counterbalance to the more fanciful McKim and White. Under his leadership, the firm became one of the country’s leading architects of the late 19th and early 20th century, with commissions such as the Boston Public Library, the Rhode Island State House, and Penn Station, along with many other public buildings and Gilded Age mansions.

The original location of the fountain marked the spot where Mead’s older brother, Larkin Mead, had created an eight-foot-high snow sculpture in 1856. The Recording Angel, as it was called, stood here for about two weeks, and the subsequent publicity helped to launch his career as prominent sculptor. He would later go on to design works such as the statue atop the Vermont State House, a statue of Ethan Allen in the United States Capitol, and the statues on Abraham Lincoln’s tomb. He died in Florence, Italy in 1910, and his grave was topped with a replica of his original Recording Angel sculpture.

Today, the Wells Fountain still stands here at the corner of Linden Street and Putney Road, although its surroundings have changed significantly. The trolley tracks in the foreground of the first photo are long gone, as are many of the surrounding buildings. The land just up the hill behind the fountain was once privately owned, with a house that once stood just out of view to the right. However, this land is now a small public park in front of the courthouse, and part of the foundation of the old house can still be seen on the far right side of the present-day photo.

William B. Howard Memorial Fountain, Wales, Mass

The fountain at the corner of Main Street and Haynes Hill Road in Wales, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The scene in 2017:

This fountain has been located here on Main Street in Wales since 1887, when it was donated to the town by William B. Howard. Born in Wales in 1832, Howard later moved west to Chicago, where he became a successful contractor. He was responsible for the construction of a number of railroads and bridges, but he was also involved in several other major projects, including the construction of the Indiana State House and the New Croton Aqueduct. Howard often returned to Wales as a summer visitor, where he stayed at the home of Myles Needham, and in 1887 he gave this fountain to the town as a gift. It was made of granite quarried from nearby Monson, and the design of the fountain is essentially identical to one in Monson, which now stands in front of Memorial Hall.

The first photo shows the fountain as it appeared shortly after it was installed at this site. Just beyond it to the left is a house that once served as the parsonage for the Wales Methodist Church. According to the state’s MACRIS database of historic buildings, the house may have been built around 1850, and at the time it was owned by a William Thompson. However, in 1858 the house was sold to the church, which used it as its parsonage until around the turn of the 20th century. The house subsequently reverted to a private residence, but neither it nor the fountain has changed much in 125 years since the first photo was taken, and today this scene looks essentially the same as it did in the early 1890s.