Elias Howe statue, Bridgeport

Elias Howe statue, BridgeportThe first statue erected in Bridgeport’s Seaside Park honors local industrialist and Civil War hero Elias Howe, Jr.

The monument was dedicated in 1884 to honor Howe, who invented the first practical sewing machine and built a Bridgeport factory to build the machines. Several inventors created similar machines about the same time as Howe, but he was awarded the U.S. patent for his device after several years of litigation.

The Howe statue faces southeast, toward the western end of the park (the Perry Memorial Arch is visible in the background of the first image in this post). Howe is depicted with a cane in one hand and a hat in the other.

In addition to his industrial success, Howe was known in Bridgeport for his patriotism during the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in the 17th Regiment of the Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, and donated money to help equip the unit.

In the statue, a regimental service medal appears on the left breast of Howe’s overcoat.

Elias Howe statue, BridgeportThe regiment’s training ground would later form the basis of Seaside Park.

The monument was sculpted by Salathiel Ellis, who also created statues of Abraham Lincoln and portrait painter Gilbert Stuart.


Smithsonian American Art Museum, Art Inventories Catalog

Elias Howe statue, Bridgeport

P.T. Barnum Monument, Bridgeport

P.T. Barnum Monument, BridgeportBridgeport has honored the memory of circus showman, mayor and philanthropist P.T. Barnum with a statue at the intersection of Iranistan Avenue and Soundview Drive in Seaside Park.

The P.T. Barnum statue, which faces south, depicts a seated Barnum with a book in his left hand. An inscription at the bottom of the base lists his name, and the front of the monument bears the years of his birth and death, as well as a Latin dedication we were unable to translate. We entered the phrasing into several online translation sites, and learned that it refers to Barnum’s kindness, but couldn’t get more specific than that.

Born in Bethel, Barnum operated museums in New York City before launching his circus career. He also served as mayor of Bridgeport, and established the circus’ winter headquarters in the city. Barnum was also instrumental in the founding of Bridgeport Hospital and the local water utility, and when Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo was established in 1920s, retired circus animals formed part of the collection.

P.T. Barnum Monument, BridgeportThe statue was created by Thomas Ball, who was also responsible for a variety of public monuments including three George Washington statues. The Barnum statue was cast in 1887, and stored by the circus until Barnum’s death.

Bridgeport’s Barnum Museum has an extensive collection of Barnum, circus and local historical artifacts.

Seaside Park is a fitting location for a Barnum statue, since the showman built a series of mansions on land that he would eventually donate to the city to expand the park. Several streets in and around the park were named after Barnum mansions.

Barnum is buried in Bridgeport’s Mountain Grove Cemetery.

Update (Aug. 6) — As you can see from the vintage postcards below, the monument was originally a bit more elaborate than it is today. The older card (with the handwritten message across the bottom) carries a 1907 postcard and shows the monument’s base was originally covered with four large bronze plaques decorated with allegorical figures. The plaza surrounding the monuments also featured four large urns.

In the more recent postcard, which we estimate dates to the 1960s, the urns have been removed but the bronze plaques remain attached to the base of the monument. We’re assuming the plaques were stolen at some point, and the modern inscription was added to the base.

Source: Bridgeport, A Pictorial History, David W. Palmquist, The Donning Company, 1981.

P.T. Barnum Monument, Bridgeport

P.T. Barnum Monument, Bridgeport

P.T. Barnum's Grave, Bridgeport

P.T. Barnum's Grave, Bridgeport

P.T. Barnum monument, 1907

P.T. Barnum monument, circa 1960s or so

Perry Memorial Arch, Bridgeport

The Perry Memorial arch in Bridgeport’s Seaside Park stands at the park’s main entrance,Perry Memorial Arch, Bridgeport at the foot of, naturally enough, Park Avenue.

The granite archway was dedicated in 1918 to honor William H. Perry, who had served as superintendent of the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company, a sewing machine producer that would later be acquired by Singer.

Perry had also been president of the city’s Parks Commission, and his will left money for the creation of a gateway to Seaside Park.

The front (northwest) face of the monument, facing away from the park, bears the inscription “Perry Memorial Arch” and the dedication date near the top. Further down, set on the center support between the two arches, is a large bronze plaque depicting a luxuriantly bearded Perry standing with an allegorical figure. A dedication at the bottom of the plaque explains the arch was dedicated to Perry’s memory by his wife, Harriet Adeline Perry.

Perry Memorial Arch, BridgeportThe southeast face of the arch bears a similar dedication, with some biographical information about Perry’s life.

The archway also bears a number of decorative elements. Grass can be seen growing from several ledges in the monument’s upper sections.

The Perry archway was designed by archietect Henry Bacon, who also designed the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and a number of other public scupltures and monuments.

Seaside Park was created in 1865 on land that had been used as a training ground by the 17th Regiment of the Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. Later donations, including land from circus showman and Bridgeport mayor P.T. Barnum, would expand the park to more than 300 acres spread along a 2.5 mile shoreline.

Bridgeport’s elaborate Civil War monument, Barnum statue and other monuments will be highlighted during the rest of this week.

Perry Memorial Arch, Bridgeport

Perry Memorial Arch, Bridgeport

War Monument, Durham

War Monument, DurhamA monument near the south end of Durham’s town green honors local residents who served in United States wars from the American Revolution to the present day.

The monument provides a comprehensive look at the nation’s wars by including conflicts, such as the War of 1812 and the 1846-48 War with Mexico, that are rarely highlighted on municipal greens.

The north face of the monument  bears the dedication “Durham honors those who served their country. Plaques on the north face honor residents who served in World War I, World War II and Korea.

War Monument, DurhamThe central plaque on the south face honors service in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the War with Mexico. Other plaques on the monument honor the Civil War, Vietnam, Desert Storm/Shield, and the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The monument, surrounded by a chain-link fence and stone pillars, sits near the base of a flagpole.

War Monument, Durham

War Monument, Durham

Town Hall War Monuments, Wallingford

War Monuments, WallingfordA collection of three  monuments honoring service in the two World Wars and Korea stand in front of Wallingford’s town hall.

The World War I monument features two large bronze plaques, each with three columns listing local residents who fought in the conflict. The middle panel bears a dedication “in honor and in memory of those men and women of Wallingford who fought in the World War 1917-1918.”

The middle panel also bears a bronze bas relief plaque with marching soldiers and sailors, three of whom are carrying American flags. The monument is stopped with a large bronze eagle.

World War Monument, WallingfordThe town’s World War II monument stands next to the World War I, and features seven plaques, each with three columns of names. The monument is undated, but appears to be of fairly recent vintage. A bronze eagle atop the monument was donated by local veterans’ organizations in 2001.

A separate monument to the Korean War stands near the World War II monument. The Korean War monument has six bronze plaques, also with three columns listing local residents who served in the conflict. The monument also has five round plaques with the emblems of the country’s military service branches.

A separate plaque just below an eagle topping the monument lists the names of six residents killed in the Korean War.

World War Monument, WallingfordWallingford’s construction of a separate Korean War monument is relatively uncommon, with many towns in the state including the Korean and Vietnam wars on a joint memorial.

World War II Monument, Wallingford

World War II Monument, Wallingford

Soldiers’ Monument, Terryville

Soldiers' Monument, TerryvilleAn obelisk in Terryville’s Hillside Cemetery honors the service of local residents killed in the Civil War.

The dedication date of the monument, in the Terryville section of Plymouth, was not recorded. But like its neighbor on the Plymouth green, its unadorned design indicates it was probably erected in 1865 or 1866.

Bronze tablets listing residents killed during the war were added in 1983 because the original inscriptions had faded and were difficult to read.

The monument does not have a formal dedication message, other than the word “Soldiers” on its front (southwest) face. The bronze plaque above this dedication lists the names, ages and dates of death of six residents who were lost in the war.

The southeast and northeast face of the monuments both honor six residents, and five people are honored on the northwest face of the monument.

Looking at the ages of the Civil War heroes from Terryville reminds us of the relative youth of the soldiers involved in the conflict (as well as those serving the nation today). Of the 23 people listed on the monument, 11 died in their twenties, and six were killed in their teens. Three men were killed in their thirties, and three more in their forties.

Soldiers' Monument, TerryvilleA number of veterans from the Civil War and later conflicts are buried in the section surrounding the monument. 








Soldiers' Monument, Terryville










Soldiers' Monument, Terryville










Soldiers' Monument, Terryville













Connecticut Historical Society: Civil War Monuments of Connecticut

State Veterans’ Cemetery, Middletown

Today, on Memorial Day, we pause to remember the sacrifice of the Connecticut veterans who gave, in the words of President Lincoln, “the last full measure of devotion.” 

(click images to enlarge)

State Veterans' Cemetery, Middletown









State Veterans' Cemetery, Middletown






































Remembrance Walk, Orange

Remembrance Walk, OrangeThe town of Orange honors local veterans with memorials in two locations.

At the High Plains Community Center, the town dedicated a Remembrance Walk display in 2005. Local families purchased bricks honoring the service of veterans in a variety of wars dating back to the American Revolution.

A plaque on the largest of the three flagpoles at the site bears the emblems of five service branches as well as a quote from President John F. Kennedy: “The cost of freedom is always high but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose is the price of surrender or submission.”

The Remembrance Walk also features several granite benches as well as decorative shrubbery.

Remembrance Walk, OrangeNot far from the Remembrance Walk, a boulder on the town green bears a plaque dedicated by the local American Legion post in memory of veterans of the country’s major wars between the American Revolution and Vietnam.

A nearby engraved boulder monument honors the local volunteer fire department. 

Orange’s Civil War veterans are also honored on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in West Haven’s Oak Grove Cemetery, which was in Orange when the monument was dedicated in 1890. (West Haven was split off from Orange in 1921.)


Remembrance Walk, Orange












War Memorial, Orange









Remembrance Walk, Orange