Hartford honors the victims of the city’s worst disaster with a memorial on the site of the 1944 circus fire.
On July 6, 1944, a fire during a performance of the Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus claimed an estimated 168 lives and caused hundreds of injuries.
Those lost and injured during the tragedy are honored with a memorial dedicated in 2005 in a park behind the Fred D. Wish elementary school on Barbour Street.
A memorial ring marking the center of the circus tent lists the names and ages of the victims, the majority of which were children and women.
Near the center ring, memorial bricks bear messages from family members and survivors. Dogwood trees at the site mark the edges of the circus tent.
A pathway from the northern end of the park is lined with granite pedestals with plaques providing information about the tragedy.
The tranquility of the site on a Sunday morning belie the chaos and tragedy on the afternoon of the fire, which broke out about 20 minutes into the performance. A small fire spread rapidly, aided by paraffin and gasoline used as a waterproof coating on the circus tent. The tent collapsed
In addition to the flames, people died after being crushed in the stampede out of the tent, or from injuries sustained after jumping from the bleachers.
Rhode island founder Roger Williams is honored with a monument in, fittingly enough, Providence’s Roger Williams Park.
The monument, dedicated in 1877, depicts a standing Williams holding a book inscribed with the words “soul” and “liberty”.
At the monument’s base, Clio (the muse of history) is inscribing Williams’ name and 1636, the year of Providence’s founding.
The Clio figure originally held a metal quill in her right hand, and the monument once featured a bronze shield, scroll and wreath near Clio’s feet (the missing elements can be seen in the 1905 black-and-white image from the Library of Congress).
The land for Roger Williams Park, and funding for the statue, were donated to the city by Williams’ great-great-great granddaughter Betsy. The park site was part of Williams’ land grant from the Narragansett tribe and the location of the family farm.
The monument was sculpted by Franklin Simmons, whose other works include the U.S. Grant memorial at the U.S. Capitol. Another version of the statue, without the Clio figure, is displayed in the Capitol building.
Not far from the Williams monument, a bronze bust and bench honor Richard H. Deming, a former president of the Providence park commission. The bust was dedicated in 1904.
UPDATE: The talk went well. We had a good audience and people said nice things afterwards. I enjoyed the event, and the opportunity to share some information about one of my interests. Thanks for having me.
On Monday, March 11, I’ll have the distinct honor of addressing the Civil War Round Table of South Central Connecticut with a talk titled “Design Trends in Connecticut’s Civil War Monuments.”
The talk will review how the appearance of the state’s Civil War monuments evolved after the war’s end, some of the reasons the Civil War was the first U.S. conflict to receive public memorialization, and the contributions of the state’s leading monument designers and dealers.
A friend in Gettysburg passed along this photo of the former Cyclorama building as demolition began on Friday. While the demolition is understandable – the building, which should not have been built 50-odd years ago on an historically significant part of the battlefield, leaked like a colander and had long outlived its usefulness – it’s still sad to see it coming down.
We have a lot of good family memories associated with the old Cyclo:
01. My first visit to Gettysburg in 1989
02. Jen moving to Gettysburg and, among other jobs in town, running the Cyclorama show.
03. Discovering how to sneak past the ticket counter (via the observation deck and straight into the upper lobby).
04. Jen meeting Ed.
05. Chris getting help for a bloody knee after tripping over a Hancock Avenue drainage ditch.
Derby honors the location of two Native American forts with inscribed boulders.
The site of the “New Fort” is marked on the southwest side of Roosevelt Drive (Route 34,) near the section with Lakeview Terrace and across the street from the Osbornedale State Park garage.
An inscription on the boulder’s northeast face reads, “The new fort. Prior to 1654, the Paugasuck (Paugasset) Indians built their second fort near this spot.”
The boulder’s southwest face bears an inscription reading, “Erected by Sarah Riggs Humprey chapter, D.A.R, 1916.”
A boulder marking the site of the natives’ first fort stands in a small traffic island near the intersection of Seymour Avenue and Division Street. The boulder’s northwest face bears an inscription reading, “Great Neck. In this locality stood the old Indian fort prior to 1654.”
Derby was settled as a trading post in 1654, and was named for Derby, England, in 1675.
A stone cairn in western Massachusetts honors the construction of a local road that bypassed a dangerous hill.
The Monument to the Automobile Age in Becket, Mass., was dedicated in 1910 to mark the opening of a bypass road that helped early motorists avoid the dangerous Jacob’s Ladder hill. Stones bearing the names of towns from throughout the northeast and eastern New York were added to the cairn, which stands today near the intersection of Route 20 and Johnson Road.
A 2010 stone on the upper left side of the cairn highlights the 100th anniversary of the opening of the bypass, and a wayside marker to the right of the cairn provides a brief history.
In the 1930s, the loose cairn was moved across the road. The cairn was shifted again in 1946, and its stones were cemented in place.
Historic images on the wayside marker indicate several stones were placed in new positions. For instance, the green plaque with three names on the left side was originally in the center of the cairn, and the eagle plaque was shifted from the middle to the lower right.
The cairn has apparently been a popular graffiti target, and a number of loose stones at the site bear the names and hometowns of recent visitors.
A cement deer stands a short distance to the west of the cairn, near the corner of Johnson Road. Because, hey, why not? If you’re going to have a large cairn on your road, you may as well add a cement deer.
Two English judges who fled a royal death sentence are honored at their hiding place high above New Haven.
Judges Cave, at the summit of West Rock State Park, is a large rock formation that, to be fair, stretches the common idea of what a cave looks like.
New Haven’s quasi-cave was the hiding place of Edward Whalley and William Goffe, who were among 59 members of Parliament who signed the warrant condemning King Charles I to death in 1649.
That probably seemed like a good idea until the monarchy was restored in 1660 and Charles II ordered the execution of the judges who had had his father beheaded.
The west face of the rock formation bears a marker reading, “Here May Fifteenth 1661 and for some weeks thereafter Edward Whalley and his son-in-law William Goffe, members of the Parliament General, officers in the army of the Commonwealth and signers of the death warrant of King Charles First, found shelter and concealment from the officers of the Crown after the Restoration. ‘Opposition to tyrants is obedience to God.'”
The marker on the west face is a replacement for a bronze plaque on the east face that was dedicated in 1896 and later stolen. (The original plaque can be seen in the black-and-white image, which was taken in 1900).
After fleeing England, Whalley and Goffe stayed briefly in Massachusetts before learning that agents of the Crown were looking for them. In New Haven, they were sheltered by Rev. John Davenport (the city would name streets after all three gentlemen) before hiding atop West Rock.
Their stay at the rock formation lasted about a month before Whalley and Goffe were chased from the cave by a panther. They moved again and resettled in Hadley, Mass.
The site today can be reached by car, or hikers can find it along the Regicides Trail (the excellent Connecticut Museum Quest site offers a good description of a Judges Cave hike). An overlook area a short drive from the cave provides nice views of downtown New Haven and the harbor.
Bridgeport honors aviation pioneer Gustave Whitehead with a memorial fountain in the city’s west end.
The fountain was dedicated in May 2012 to honor Whitehead, who reportedly flew an early airplane in 1901 not far from the fountain’s location at the intersection of Fairfield Avenue and State Street Extension.
The memorial features a replica of Whitehead’s No. 21 flyer above a granite base and four fountains. The fountain’s base proudly proclaims Whitehead to be “First in Flight,” and the plane shifts and its propellers rotate in the wind.
According to articles in the Bridgeport Herald and Scientific American, Whitehead successfully flew in Fairfield, Bridgeport and Stratford in 1901, two years before the Wright Brothers flight in North Carolina.
Whitehead supporters cite poor record keeping, a lack of photographic evidence, and an agreement between the Wright Brothers’ descendants and the Smithsonian Institution regarding the display of the Wright Flyer at the National Air and Space Museums as reasons Whitehead’s earlier flights aren’t recognized or investigated by aviation historians.
The fountain was designed by Theodore L. Grabarz, Bridgeport’s deputy director of public works and the designer of the city’s 2009 World War II monument, and the Whitehead plane was designed by Fairfield sculptor Ron Cavalier.
150 years ago, members of four Connecticut regiments, many of them in their first Civil War fighting, were among the 23,000 who lost their lives during the Battle of Antietam. Today, we visit the CTMonuments.net archives to honor the state residents who fought in these Maryland cornfields and helped turn the tide toward reuniting the United States.