John Mason Monument, Windsor

UPDATE: Scheduled for removal in July of 2020

An 1889 monument to English settler John Mason illustrates how our attitudes toward historic people and events can change over time.

The monument, which stands today on Windsor’s Palisado Green, depicts Mason, in 17th century clothing, drawing a sword.

A dedication plaque on the west face of the monument’s base reads, “Major John Mason. Born 1600 in England. Immigrated to New England in 1630. A founder of Windsor, Old Saybrook and Norwich. Magistrate and Chief Military Officer of the Connecticut Colony, Deputy Governor and acting Governor. A Patentee of the Colonial Charter. Died 1672 in Norwich. Erected at Mystic in 1889 by the State of Connecticut, this monument was relocated in 1996 to respect a sacred site of the 1637 Pequot War.”

As the plaque indicates, the Mason monument was dedicated in 1889 on Pequot Avenue in the Mystic section of Groton. The monument was built to mark the site of a former Pequot settlement that Mason burned in 1637, and to honor Mason’s contributions to the defeat of the Pequots by English settlers.

At the time, the monument bore a dedication reading, “Erected AD 1889 By the State of Connecticut to commemorate the heroic achievement of Major John Mason and his comrades, who near this spot in 1637, overthrew the Pequot Indians, and preserved the settlements from destruction.”

Estimates place the number of Pequots killed by Mason’s forces between 400 and 700. In July of 1637, a small group of Pequot warriors was defeated in Fairfield’s Great Swamp Fight, and fighting between the settlers and the natives came to a close.

In late 1992, local Pequots (who, thanks to the development of Foxwoods, had considerably more economic and political influence than they had when the monument was dedicated a century earlier) began efforts to have the Mason monument removed from the massacre site, which they considered sacred ground.

After debate about the historic context of the monument’s original dedication and today’s differing views about Native Americans, the Mason monument was moved from Mystic to Windsor, and the dedication plaque was changed to reflect Mason’s political contributions to that town, Old Saybrook and Norwich.

The Mason statue was created by sculptor James C.G. Hamilton, whose other works included a Civil War monument in Muskegon, Michigan, and a bronze statue of Cleveland founder Moses Cleaveland.

P.T. Barnum Statue, Bethel

We’re a bit late on this one, but Bethel dedicated a new statue honoring local son P.T. Barnum in September.

The six-foot statue, by local artist Dave Gesualdi, stands along Greenwood Avenue outside the public library.

The statue, dedicated to mark the 200th anniversary of Barnum’s 1810 birth in Bethel, depicts Barnum raising his hat as he departs the town to seek his fortune.

Barnum’s career would include creating a curiosity museum in New York and the circus that still bears his name, as well as political and charitable contributions to Bridgeport.

We visited Dave’s studio last March, as the sculptor was creating the statue in clay, and were impressed to see the final version in its outdoor setting.

Memorial Parklet, Gales Ferry

The Gales Ferry section of Ledyard honors war veterans with a small park and monument.

Memorial Parklet, at the intersection of Military Highway and Hurlbutt Road, was created in 1920. The park features a granite monument, dedicated in 1956, that features an eagle atop a 7-foot column.

A dedication on the monument’s shaft reads, “Dedicated to the men and women who served their country in all wars.”

The monument’s base is a former millstone.

The park is part of the Gales Ferry Historic District No. 2, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.

A wooden Honor Roll stood in the park between 1942 and 1956, when the granite monument was dedicated. A granite marker in front of the monument lists 16 names.

According to the district’s registration form, the monument’s granite shaft originally served as farm equipment. The shaft was one of several pulled by oxen and used to roll over freshly planted fields.

A nearly identical monument in Preston honors that town’s American Revolution veterans.

The Gales Ferry section of Ledyard is named for a ferry that operated across the Thames River starting in 1740.

Grove Street Cemetery, New Haven

New Haven’s Grove Street Cemetery is one of the nation’s first suburban, park-like cemeteries.

The cemetery marks the final resting place of many notable Connecticut residents.

Some historical figures buried there include statesman Roger Sherman, Civil War Admiral Andrew Hull Foote (who is also honored on Cheshire’s Soldiers’  Monument); David Humphreys (a Derby native and American Revolution general who served as an aide-de-camp to George Washington and an ambassador); Noah Webster; inventors Eli Whitney and Charles Goodyear; and a large number of New Haven settlers and Yale professors and leaders.

Free guided tours are offered on weekends between April and mid-November.

Roger Sherman

Cemetery History

The cemetery, still officially known as the New Haven City Burial Ground, was chartered in 1797 to provide an alternative to burials at the upper end of the New Haven Green.

Concerns about health and overcrowding at the existing burial ground (beneath and behind the location of Center Church) prompted James Hillhouse to purchase land from two farm that were, at the time, located outside the settled sections of downtown New Haven.

The cemetery was notable for its then-suburban location and its early use of family plots for internments.

By 1821, headstones from the original burial ground were transferred to Grove Street Cemetery and placed along the cemetery’s north and west walls in alphabetical order.

Admiral Andrew Hull Foote

Over the years, the cemetery purchased adjoining land and ceded sections to the city to form its current configuration.

Charles Goodyear
James T. Hemingway, chief engineer of the New Haven Fire Department, died fighting a Dwight Street store fire in 1952.
Football pioneer Walter Camp
Eli Whitney
David Humphreys
Noah Webster
Grove Street Gate

Our New CT Postcards Blog

Along with monuments, we’ve long enjoyed collecting postcards and the glimpses they offer of Connecticut’s landmarks and history. Vintage postcards can show us how places, cars and fashions have changed over the years, as well as how many places have stayed the same.

Rather than letting these images sit (more or less sorted) in boxes, we’ve decided to share them on our latest blog – CTPostcards.net. Every day, we’ll provide a different Connecticut postcard and highlight one small segment of the state.

Some landmarks you’ll recognize. Others have long been demolished. And some may seem like a curious inspiration for a postcard.

Either way, you hope you’ll find the site interesting.

Check back every morning, or you can subscribe to the site’s RSS feed.

Founders’ Monument, Greenwich

Greenwich honors its founders with a monument on East Putnam Avenue (Route 1).

The monument, near the intersection of East Putnam Avenue and Maple Avenue, was dedicated in 1935 by the Daughters of the American Colonists to honor the town’s first English settlers.

The monument features a bronze plaque attached to the southern face of a boulder. The plaque bears a dedication reading, “In memory of the courageous men who founded the first settlement of the Town of Greenwich in the Connecticut Colony, July 18, 1640.”

The monument also includes two lists of names reflecting the assembly of Greenwich from two land purchases from Native Americans.

The first purchase, in 1640, included today’s Old Greenwich section. The second, in 1672, included the Field Point section.

The upper section of the monument lists 10 residents who made the 1640 purchase.

The lower section of the monument lists 27 residents responsible for the Field Point purchase.

The founders’ monument stands at the base of a hill, below the 1890 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument.

James O’Rourke Statue, Bridgeport

Bridgeport honors Hall-of-Fame baseball pioneer James O’Rourke with a monument outside the Ballpark at Harbor Yard.

The bronze statue by West Haven sculptor Susan Clinard was dedicated on late August to honor O’Rourke, who recorded the first hit in the National League in 1876 as part of a career that spanned 23 years.

Known as “Orator Jim,” O’Rourke was also an 1887 graduate of Yale Law School.

The monument depicts O’Rourke following through a baseball swing. A dedication on the west face of the monument’s base includes a summary of O’Rourke’s contributions to the sport and to Bridgeport.

An open bronze book near his feet bears a quote attributed to O’Rourke, “Baseball is for all creeds and nationalities.” The open book is supported by representations of a volume of Shakespearian poetry as well as Blackstone’s Commentaries (an authoritative exploration of English Common Law).

After his Major League career was over, O’Rourke was active in the professional Connecticut State League as an owner, manager and occasional player.

The dedication of the monument caps several years of efforts to honor O’Rourke. Efforts to convert the ballplayer’s former Pembroke Street home into a baseball museum ended when the house, long visible from Interstate 95 standing alone in a cleared area near the harbor, was demolished.

The statue stands outside the city’s Ballpark at Harbor Yard, home of the Independent League’s Bridgeport Bluefish.

An exhibition running through January of 2011 at the Fairfield Museum and History Center provides a look at baseball’s history in the region.

Hive of the Averys, Groton

A large monument in Groton marks the original homestead of the local branch of the Avery family.

The monument, near the intersection of Poquonnock Road and Route 1, marks the site of the “Hive of the Averys,” where Captain James Avery built a homestead around 1650.

The site features a tall column topped by a bronze bust of Avery. A bronze plaque on the front (southeast) face of the monument’s base displays an image of the house. The northeast face lists the eight owners of the house between 1656 and 1894. The northwest face says the monument was built in 1895 by the Avery Memorial Association.

The southwest face of the monument’s base bears an inscription reading, “This memorial marks the site of the home built in 1656 by Captain James Avery, the founder of the family now known as the Groton Averys. This Hive of the Averys was owned and occupied by its famous builder until his death.

“Its later ownership and occupancy passed, in regular order of descent, from father to son, until it was burned on the night of July 20, 1894. Hinc illae lacrimae (Hence these tears).”

Steps from the original house and several other features can be seen at the site.

Captain James Avery moved to Groton from Gloucester, Mass., around 1650. In 1656, he commanded a company of Englishmen fighting Native Americans, and in 1684, he expanded the house. For the next 230 years, eight generations of Averys lived in the Hive.

The arrival of the railroad to Groton ultimately meant the end for the Avery homestead. In 1894, sparks from a passing railroad engine set the house’s roof on fire, and the home was destroyed.

At the time of the fire, James Denison Avery was serving as Groton’s town clerk and, according to the custom of the era, recorded transactions and stored the town’s land records in his home. Fortunately, bound transaction volumes were protected in fireproof safes.

The monument was created by sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, whose works included the Nathan Hale statue at Yale University.

More information about the Avery family, which has long been active in civic and business circles, at the Avery Memorial Association’s website.