Colonel Thomas Knowlton Monument, Hartford

Colonel Thomas Knowlton Monument, HartfordConnecticut honors American Revolution hero Thomas Knowlton  with a statue on the grounds of the state capitol.

The statue, near the corner of Trinity Street and Capitol Avenue, honors Knowlton, a Massachusetts native whose family moved to Ashford, Connecticut, when he was a child.

Colonel Thomas Knowlton Monument, HartfordAt the age of 15, Knowlton fought in the French and Indian War. During the Revolution, he led Connecticut troops during the Battle of Bunker Hill and was killed during the Battle of Harlem Heights.

Knowlton led a group of scouts that gathered valuable intelligence before the battle. His troops included Nathan Hale, who was captured and executed by British forces after volunteering to serve as a spy.

Colonel Thomas Knowlton Monument, HartfordThe statue, dedicated in 1895, depicts Knowlton with a drawn sword. A dedication on the east side of the monument’s base reads, “In memory of Colonel Thomas Knowlton of Ashford Conn. who as a boy served in several campaigns in the French and Indian Wars, shared in the siege and capture of Havana in 1762, was in immediate command of Connecticut troops at the Battle of Bunker Hill, was with his commands closely attached to the person of Washington, and was killed at the Battle of Harlem Heights, September 16, 1776, at the age of thirty-six.”

Colonel Thomas Knowlton Monument, HartfordThe statue was created by Enoch Smith Woods, whose other works include a Hale statue at the Wadsworth Atheneum, a bust of Hale in East Haddam, and a Hartford plaque honoring anesthesia pioneer Horace Wells.


Colonel Thomas Knowlton Monument, Hartford










Lafayette Statue, Hartford

Lafayette Statue, HartfordA French nobleman who played key roles in supporting the Continental Army during the American Revolution is honored with a statue in Hartford.

The Marquis de Lafayette memorial, at the corner of Capitol Avenue and Lafayette Street, stands on a traffic island across from the State Capitol building.

Lafayette Statue, HartfordThe statue, dedicated in 1932, depicts Lafayette, on horseback with an uplifted sword, leading troops into battle.

A plaque added to the east side of the monument’s base in 1957 bears Lafayette’s birth and death dates, and an inscription describing him as “A true friend of liberty, who served as a major general in the Continental Army with ‘all possible zeal, without any special pay or allowances’ until the American colonists secured their freedom, and whose frequent visits to this state as aide to Washington as liaison officer with supporting French troops, and in the pursuit of freedom, are gratefully remembered.”

Lafayette Statue, HartfordLafayette came to America as a 19-year-old in late 1776, and served alongside Washington. During the war, he returned to France and helped secure that nation’s military and political support of the revolution.

Lafayette was imprisoned during the French Revolution, and after his release, returned to the United States in 1824-25 for a 24-state tour that included stops in New Haven, Tolland and Middletown, CT. During the tour, Lafayette laid the cornerstone for the Bunker Hill monument in Massachusetts.

Lafayette Statue, HartfordThe statue, by sculptor Paul Wayland Bartlett, is a copy of a 1907 statue in Paris. The statue originally stood across Capitol Avenue, but was moved in 1979 to improve traffic patterns in the area. (The postcard image at the bottom of this post shows the statue in its original location.)

A small turtle stands near the horse’s left hoof. Various theories suggest the turtle may be a coded complaint about the pace of payment to Bartlett, or a secret apology for the pace of the statue’s completion.

Lafayette Statue, Hartford






Lafayette Statue, Hartford






Lafayette Statue, Hartford










Circus Fire Memorial, Hartford

Circus Fire Memorial, HartfordHartford 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.

Circus Fire Memorial, HartfordThose 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.

Circus Fire Memorial, HartfordNear 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.

Circus Fire Memorial, HartfordThe 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.

Circus Fire Memorial, HartfordThe cause of the fire was never established.





Circus Fire Memorial, Hartford






Circus Fire Memorial, Hartford






Circus Fire Memorial, Hartford






Circus Fire Memorial, Hartford









Workers’ Memorial, Hartford

Workers’ Memorial, HartfordConnecticut employees killed or injured in workplace accidents are honored with a memorial in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

The Workers’ Memorial, in a small plaza along the west side of Trinity Street, was dedicated in 2010. A curved wall features a small bench, and an inscription on a medallion in the plaza bears a quote from Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, a labor organizer: “Mourn for the dead; fight for the living.”

The April 28, 2010, dedication date also marked the 40th anniversary of the enactment of the Occupational Safety & Health Act.

Unions have also designated April 28 as Workers Memorial Day, with many holding ceremonies to remember injured or killed workers.

Workers’ Memorial, HartfordThe workers’ memorial, not far from the park’s Israel Putnam monument, was designed by Smith Edwards Architects of Hartford.






Workers’ Memorial, Hartford










Andersonville Boy Memorial, Hartford

Connecticut honors Civil War veterans held in Confederate prisoner of war camps with a statue on the grounds of the state capitol.

The “Andersonville Boy” statue, dedicated in 1907, honors the state’s Civil War POWs. A dedication on the monument’s east face reads, “In memory of the men of Connecticut who suffered in Southern military prisons, 1861-1865.”

The monument depicts a young soldier wearing a simple frock coat and holding a hat in his left hand.

The monument was created by sculptor Bela Pratt, whose other works include a notable statue of Nathan Hale on the Yale campus in New Haven.

The Hartford statue is a copy of a monument dedicated at the same time at the site of the Andersonville prison camp in Georgia. During the war, nearly 13,000 of the 45,000 Union prisoners held at the camp died from disease and malnutrition. The camp was known for overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions.

The illustrations depicting the prison camp are from the Library of Congress.

A monument in Norwich’s Yantic Cemetery honors Civil War veterans from the city who died at Andersonville.

Next to the Andersonville Boy monument is a statue honoring Clarence Ransom Edwards, an Ohio native who commanded a World War I division comprised of National Guard troops from New England states. The Edwards memorial, dedicated in 1942, was created by sculptor George H. Snowden.




































Israel Putnam Monument, Hartford

American Revolution General Israel Putnam is honored with a statue in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

The Putnam statue, practically in the shadow of the state capitol building, was dedicated in 1874. The general is depicted, in uniform, cradling a sword in his left hand. Putnam is holding a three-cornered hat in his right hand.

The monument’s granite base bears a simple inscription on its front (east) side reading, “Israel Putnam.”

Putnam, a native of Danvers, Mass., led Connecticut troops during the Battle of Bunker Hill and may have issued the famous “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes,” command.

The west side of the base reflects the posthumous donation of the statue by Joseph Pratt Allyn, a Hartford native and a justice on the Supreme Court of the Arizona territory. Ally, who used the pen name “Putnam” when commenting on political events in letters to a Hartford newspaper, left money for the memorial.

The monument was created by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward, whose other works include the 7th Regiment Monument in New York’s Central Park.

Not far from the Bushnell Park monument, Putnam’s original headstone has been placed in a case in the Hall of Flags at the Capitol building’s west entrance.

After his death in 1790, Putnam was placed in an aboveground tomb in Brooklyn. Over the years, souvenir hunters damaged the headstone, and the gravesite was deemed unsuitable for Putnam.

Putnam was moved to a new sarcophagus and monument on Canterbury Road (Route 169) in  Brooklyn, and the original headstone was placed on display in the Capitol.

Putnam is also honored with memorials at Putnam Park in Redding and a Greenwich hill where he escaped from pursuing British forces.





































Samuel Colt Monument, Hartford

Samuel Colt is honored with a memorial statue in a park on the grounds of his former estate.

The Samuel Colt monument, near the Wethersfield Avenue entrance to Colt Park, was commissioned by Colt’s wife Elizabeth and dedicated in 1906 to honor the industrialist.

The monument depicts Colt at two stages in his life. The smaller statue, near the front of the monument, depicts a young Colt whittling a revolver chamber while serving as a sailor. The larger figure, standing atop the monument, depicts Colt as a successful manufacturer.

Samuel Colt Monument, HartfordA dedication on the center panel of the monument’s west face reads, “Samuel Colt 1814-1862. On the grounds on which his taste beautified by the home he loved, this memorial stands to speak of his genius, his enterprise, and of his great and loyal heart.”

The monument also features two bronze panels illustrating scenes from Colt’s life. In the panel on the left, Colt is pictured meeting with the Russian Tsar, but the plaque’s staining make it tough to identify Colt or to figure out what’s going on.

In the right, panel, Colt is seen demonstrating a revolver to the British House of Commons. That plaque is also stained and faded, but you can see Colt holding a gun.

The monument was created by sculptor John Massey Rhind, whose works include the allegorical figures outside the New Haven County Courthouse.

After Colt’s death, Elizabeth ran the manufacturing business until she sold it in 1901. In addition to donating the family estate as a park after her 1905 death, she also sponsored the construction of Hartford’s Church of the Good Shepherd and a building at the Wadsworth Atheneum.






































Keney Memorial Tower, Hartford

Keney Memorial Tower, HartfordHartford’s Keney Memorial Clock Tower and the small park surrounding it were donated by the Keney brothers in the late 19th century to honor their mother.

The tower, 130 feet tall, stands near the intersection of Albany Avenue with Main and Ely streets.

The tower was dedicated in 1898 to honor Rebecca Turner Keney, the mother of Walter and Henry Keney. The brothers ran the family’s wholesale grocery business, which, along with the family home, stood on the site of the tower.

Walter Keney died in 1889, and Henry died in 1894. In Henry’s will, money was set aside for Keney Park, to benefit a number of Hartford charities and to build the memorial tower.

According to the tower’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places, a dedication plaque inside the tower’s interior reads, “This tower, erected to the memory of my mother, is designed to preserve from other occupancy the ground sacred to me as her home and to stand in perpetual honor to the wisdom, goodness and womanly nobility of her to whose guidance I owe my success in life and its chief joy – Henry Keney.”

The tower was designed by architect Charles C. Haight, whose other works include a number of buildings on Yale’s Old Campus.

The neighborhood surrounding the tower has changed considerably over the year. In the black-and-white image of the tower, taken around 1905, you can see homes on the other side of Ely Street.

In the background of the black-and-white image of the gate, a commercial building stood on Ely Street, on a now-vacant lot.

By the early 1990s, the park surrounding the tower was overgrown and the tower had been sprayed with graffiti. A restoration by the City of Hartford included replacing gold leaf on the clock face, site improvements and the installation of computerized chimes in the tower.











Keney Memorial Tower, Hartford















Keney Memorial Tower, 1905











Keney Memorial Tower Gate, 1977











Charter Oak Monument, Hartford

A 1905 monument marks the former location of Hartford’s legendary Charter Oak tree.

The Charter Oak, a noted landmark and symbol for Hartford and Connecticut, was supposedly the hiding place of the royal charter granting legitimacy to the colony of Connecticut.

The monument, not far from where the Charter Oak stood,  is at the corner of today’s Charter Oak Avenue and Charter Oak Place. The monument is a round column topped with a globe that is supported by a base with four whales and sea shells, which we assume represent Connecticut’s maritime history.

A dedication on the monument’s front (west) face reads, “Near this spot stood the Charter Oak, memorable in the history of the colony of Connecticut as the hiding place of the charter October 31, 1687. The tree fell August 21, 1856.”

The east face of the monument is inscribed with its 1905 dedication date and credits the Society of Colonial Wars in the State of Connecticut 1633-1775 for erecting the monument.

The Charter Oak legend is based on a 1687 incident that followed a political dispute over whether the fledgling Connecticut colony would be consolidated into a unified colony covering the New England states. During negotiations over the dispute, Connecticut’s royal charter was removed from the meeting room and, according to the legend, was hidden in large white oak tree that would become known as the Charter Oak.

The Charter Oak tree, which grew to have a base with a diameter circumference of 33 feet, fell after a storm in 1856. Wood from the tree was used to make the elaborate seat used by the president of the state senate and a large number of other objects displayed in the capitol building.

As you can see in the vintage postcard near the bottom of this post, the small marble marker engraved with the date the Charter Oak fell used to be part of a wall along Charter Oak Place. It was later incorporated into the brick apartment building. (The postcard was mailed in 1911 from Hartford to East Douglas, Mass.)

The Charter Oak, which remains a common Connecticut symbol, was depicted on the back of the state’s quarter in 2000.

Griffin A. Stedman Monument, Hartford

Hartford honors a “typical volunteer soldier” of the Civil War with a monument near the site  where many regiments trained before heading south.

The Griffin A. Stedman monument in the city’s Barry Square neighborhood stands on Campfield Avenue, which was named for the fields in which several of Connecticut’s volunteer infantry regiments trained.

Stedman, a Hartford native, joined the 14th Regiment in 1861 and was appointed a captain in the 5th Regiment. He was promoted four times during the war, and was wounded at the Battle of Antietam. He reached the rank of brigadier general before being killed at Petersburg, Va.,  at the age of 26.

Stedman is buried in Hartford’s Cedar Hill Cemetery.

The monument, dedicated in 1900, honors Stedman and the Connecticut regiments who camped in the field near the monument before starting their Civil War service. A dedication on the front (west) face reads, “Griffin A. Steadman, typical volunteer soldier of the Civil War. Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier General. Born at Hartford, Conn., January 6, 1838. Killed at Petersburg, Va., August 5, 1864.” The west face also displays crossed rifles representing the infantry near the base and crossed swords, representing the cavalry, near the top of the base.

Gen. Stedman stands atop the monument, facing west with binoculars in his right hand and his left resting near his sword.

A bronze plaque on the south face describes the location of the former regimental camp fields, and the east face bears a bronze Connecticut shield. The north face has a bronze plaque honoring the units that trained in Hartford (the 5th, 8th, 10th, 14th, 16th, 22nd and 25th). The corners of the monument’s base bear pyramids of concrete cannon balls.

The monument was sculpted by Frederick Moynihan, who also created the JEB Stuart statue along Richmond’s Monument Avenue and two monuments at the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park.

The Stedman monument stands near the corner of Campfield Avenue and Bond Street, next to St. Augustine Church. A marker in the field honors Matthew Arace, a Hartford police officer killed in a 2006 automobile accident. Sgt. Arace, who did community work in the Barry Square neighborhood, is also honored with a bridge on Interstate 91 in Hartford.

Across Campfield Avenue, a bronze plaque mounted on a granite slab honors Thomas McManus, a Hartford native and Civil War veteran who served as a major in the 25th Regiment. He was also a judge, a member of Connecticut’s General Assembly and director of the state prison at Wethersfield.

McManus was also active in veterans’ affairs after the war, and was one of the main organizers of the Stedman monument effort. McManus died in 1913, and his fellow 25th Regiment veterans honored him with the plaque in 1923.