The Genius of Connecticut, Connecticut State Capitol, Hartford

The plaster model of The Genius of Connecticut, located inside the Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford, around 1891. Image from Hartford Illustrated (1891).

The scene in 2019:

Connecticut’s current state capitol building was completed in 1878, and it was originally topped by The Genius of Connecticut, which was designed by sculptor Randolph Rogers. This 18-foot-tall bronze statue stood atop the building’s dome for many years, but the original plaster model was also retained, and it stood here on the main floor of the capitol, just inside the northern entrance. The first photo was taken around 1891, showing the plaster model along with some of the ornate Victorian-era decorations inside the building.

The statue on the dome was ultimately damaged during the 1938 hurricane and was taken down, and it was subsequently melted down for scrap metal during World War II. However, the plaster model has remained here inside the capitol, although in the 1980s it was painted bronze as part of a restoration effort. Then, in 2007, it was again used as a model, this time with the use of lasers to accurately measure every detail of the statue. Using this information, a replica statue was cast in bronze, with the goal of eventually placing it atop the dome.

Today, neatly 130 years after the first photo was taken, the plaster model still stands here in the entryway. Aside from the bronze paint to the statue and the addition of a few items inside the building, hardly anything has changed here in this scene, and the capitol remains in use as the seat of the state government. Just around the corner, out of view to the left, is the replica bronze statue, which as of right now stands at the base of the rotunda, awaiting the necessary funds to raise it to the top of the building.

John P. Hale Statue, Concord, New Hampshire

The John P. Hale statue on the grounds of the New Hampshire State House in Concord, around 1900-1909. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The statue in 2019:

This statue of Senator John P. Hale is one of several on the grounds of the New Hampshire State House that honor famous New Hampshire residents. Although not as nationally-prominent as some of the others, such as Franklin Pierce and Daniel Webster, Hale was an important politician in the years immediately before and after the Civil War. He served for 16 years in the Senate, where he was a staunch opponent of slavery, and he later served as the U. S. Minister to Spain from 1865 to 1869.

Ironically, despite being a political ally of Abraham Lincoln, Hale inadvertently almost became the father-in-law of John Wilkes Booth. His daughter, Lucy Lambert Hale, was a leading socialite in Washington D.C., and she had many suitors, including Robert Todd Lincoln, whom Senator Hale hoped she would marry. Instead, though, she became secretly engaged to Booth, who was a successful actor at the time. They never married, and Booth was killed less than two weeks after he assassinated Lincoln, but Lucy’s photo was found on his body after he was killed.

Lucy Lambert Hale ultimately married William E. Chandler, a New Hampshire attorney and newspaper publisher who subsequently represented the state in the Senate from 1887 to 1901. During this time, he lobbied for a statue here on the State House grounds to honor his father-in-law, who had died in 1873. Chandler paid for the statue, and the state agreed to accept it and place it here in front of the northeast corner of the State House. The statue was designed by German sculptor Ferdinand von Miller, and it was cast in his foundry in Munich, the same place where the nearby Daniel Webster statue was cast several years earlier.

Hale’s statue was unveiled on August 3, 1892, in a ceremony that included addresses by William Chandler and Governor Hiram A. Tuttle. Other dignitaries included four former governors, along with members of the Hale and Chandler families, including John Hale’s widow and his daughter Lucy. The keynote speaker was Colonel Daniel Hall, a Civil War veteran from Hale’s hometown of Dover. His speech included an outline of the history of slavery in America and Hale’s opposition to it, noting that Hale had, early in his political career, “found his conscience and his whole better nature insurgent against the slave system.” These abolitionist sentiments are also expressed on the plaque at the base of the monument, which includes the claim that he was the “first anti-slavery U. S. Senator.”

The first photo was taken about a decade or so after the statue’s installation, and it has remained here ever since. Not much else has changed in this scene, with the exception of some alterations to the State House in the background. The building was renovated in 1909-1910 with a large addition to the rear, along with a third floor in place of the 1860s mansard roof. Otherwise, though, the State House looks much the same as it did when the first photo was taken more than a century ago, and it remains in use as one of the oldest state capitol buildings in the United States.

Daniel Webster Statue, Concord, New Hampshire

The Daniel Webster statue in front of the New Hampshire State House in Concord, around 1900-1909. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The statue in 2019:

The grounds of the New Hampshire State House feature statues of some of the state’s most famous residents, including Daniel Webster, whose statue occupies a prominent location directly in front of the eastern entrance to the building. Webster is best known for being part of the Great Triumvirate, which also included John C. Calhoun of South Carolina and Henry Clay of Kentucky. These three senators were among the most influential American politicians of the first half of the 19th century, serving as the primary advocates for their respective regions of the country from the 1820s until their deaths in the early 1850s.

Although Webster spent most of his political career in Massachusetts, he was born in New Hampshire and represented the state in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1813 to 1817. He subsequently moved to Boston, but he was not forgotten here in his native state, and in 1886 this statue was dedicated here in front of the State House. The commission for designing the statue had originally gone to Martin Milmore, but he died in 1883 and the statue was completed by noted sculptor Thomas Ball, whose previous works had included a large statue of Webster in Central Park.

The first photo was taken several decades after the statue was installed here, and shortly before the State House underwent a major renovation in 1909-1910. From this angle, the result of this renovation can be seen with the third floor, which replaced the 1860s mansard roof from the first photo. Otherwise, though, not much has changed here in this scene, and the statue of Daniel Webster still stands here overlooking downtown Concord.

New Hampshire State House, Concord, New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State House in Concord, around 1900-1909. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The State House in 2019:

Completed in 1819, the New Hampshire State House is among the oldest state capitol buildings in the country, and it is the oldest one with both of its original legislative chambers still in use. Despite this, though, the building has undergone substantial changes over the past two centuries, on both the interior and exterior. The original design was the work of architect Stuart James Park, and it was two stories in height, with a cupola at the top and an exterior of locally-quarried granite.

By the mid-19th century building had become too small, and the city of Manchester offered to build a new capitol building if the state government relocated to the much larger industrial city to the south. However, the state ultimately chose to remain in Concord, and hired noted architect Gridley J. F. Bryant to renovate the building. His expansion, which is shown in the first photo, was completed in 1866. It included a mansard roof, which allowed for more interior space, along with the addition of a columned portico here on the east facade. Bryant also replaced the old cupola with a much larger dome, although he retained the wooden eagle that had originally sat atop the cupola.

By the time the first photo was taken in the early 20th century, the building was again too small, which reignited the debate about moving the capital to Manchester. Once again, though, the building was expanded instead of being abandoned, and this time the renovations were designed by the Boston architectural firm of Peabody and Stearns. Most significantly, this project included a large addition to the rear of the building for the governor’s office, Executive Council chambers, and other government offices.

The other major change, which is much more visible from this angle, involved removing the 1860s mansard roof and adding a full third floor, topped with a flat roof and a granite balustrade along the roofline. Like the rest of the building, the third floor was constructed of granite, but the blocks were sourced from a different quarry. As a result, the present-day photo shows a noticeable difference in the shade of the granite between the second and third floors.

This project was completed in 1910, and the building has remained in use ever since. Today, aside from the age of its legislative chambers, the building is also significant for housing by far the largest state legislature in the country. With 400 representatives and 24 senators, the New Hampshire General Court is nearly twice the size of the next two largest state legislatures, and its House of Representatives is almost the same size of the United States House of Representatives.

Well over a century after the first photo was taken, the removal of the mansard roof is still the only significant change to this scene. Otherwise, this scene has remained essentially the same as it looked at the turn of the 20th century, and even the two statues are still standing in front of the State House, honoring two famous native New Hampshirites. On the left is General John Stark, and further in the distance on the right is Daniel Webster. The gold dome is also still topped with an eagle, although the current one is a copper replica of the original wooden one, which was removed in 1957 and put on display inside the State House.

William Tecumseh Sherman Statue, New York City (2)

The statue William Tecumseh Sherman, in Grand Army Plaza at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street in New York, in September 1942. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection.

The statue in 2019:

As discussed in an earlier post, this statue was designed by prominent sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and dedicated in 1903, in honor of General William Tecumseh Sherman, one of the most successful Union generals of the Civil War. The statue features Sherman seated on his horse, Ontario, while being led by the goddess Victory. She wears a laurel crown and is holding a palm frond in her left hand, both of which are classical symbols of victory. The statue stands atop a pink granite base, which was designed by architect Charles Follen McKim.

The first photo in the earlier post was taken only a few years after the statue was dedicated, but the first photo here was taken much later, in September 1942. In the interim, the statue had been moved 15 feet to the west in 1913, and then later in the 1910s it was temporarily removed from the site entirely, in order to make room for subway excavations. It was subsequently returned here by the early 1920s, and it has remained here ever since.

By the time the first photo was taken, America had been involved in World War II for less than a year. The photographer was Marjory Collins, a noted photojournalist and New York native who documented life on the home front as part of the United States Office of War Information. The only obvious clue about the war is the sailor seated on the base of the statue, but Collins likely included the photo as a way of connecting the war to past conflicts in the nation’s history.

In the nearly 80 years since the first photo was taken, the statue has undergone several restorations, including re-gilding the surface, and today it looks essentially the same as it did back then. Much of the background has also remained unchanged during this time. There are newer high-rises on the left side, but the two buildings on the right side of the first photo are still standing. On the far right side is the Metropolitan Club, built in 1893, and just to the left of it is The Pierre, a 41-story luxury hotel that opened in 1930.

William Tecumseh Sherman Statue, New York City

The statue William Tecumseh Sherman at the present-day Grand Army Plaza in New York, around 1903-1906. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

The scene in 2019:

The first photo was taken sometime soon after the 1903 dedication of William Tecumseh Sherman, an equestrian statue honoring the famous Civil War general. Although a native of Ohio, Sherman spent his later years in New York City, and after his death in 1891 the New York Chamber of Commerce commissioned prominent sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens to design a memorial in his honor.

It took Saint-Gaudens more than a decade to complete the statue, and it was installed here at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 59th Street, at the southeast corner of Central Park. This area is now known as Grand Army Plaza, although it did not receive this name until 1923. The statue features Sherman astride his horse Ontario, and they are being led by the winged goddess Victory, who wears a laurel crown and carries a palm frond in her left hand. The figures stand atop a pink granite base, which was designed by Charles Follen McKim, one of the leading American architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

In 1913, the statue was moved 15 feet to the west of its original location, in order to place it in line with the newly-installed Pulitzer Fountain on the south side of the plaza. Then, a few years later, it was temporarily removed from this site and placed in storage, in order to make room for the construction of a new subway line. It was eventually returned here by the early 1920s, and over the years it has been re-gilded several times, most recently in 2013. At some point the statue also lost its palm frond and sword, but these were replaced during a late 1980s restoration, and today the statue looks essentially the same as it did when the first photo was taken more than a century ago.