Manchester Historical Society connects with the Civil War
By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Fri., Apr. 1, 2011
In recognition of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, the Manchester Historical Society is presenting several programs. On March 13, Mary Donahue, architectural historian for the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, discussed the many Civil War monuments in Connecticut's towns, including Manchester’s Civil War statue.
“In some ways, the Capital is a Civil War monument in itself,” said Donahue about the state capital building in Hartford. There is also a Civil War monument in Bushnell Park. Donahue recently co-authored an article about the Connecticut monuments, which was published in the Connecticut Explored magazine’s Spring 2011 Special Edition.
According to Donahue, there are almost 140 Civil War monuments in Connecticut. The first one was erected in 1863 in the Kensington section of Southington while the war was still on-going, and for many still dealt primarily with the issue of the South’s right to secede from the Union.
There are very few pre-Civil War monuments in the United States. Donahue said that the people did not support monuments to a specific person, which was considered rather pagan and non-democratic. For this reason, the obelisk became the favored monument style. It also became an accepted style to list the names of the people who were injured or lost their lives in the war.
Betty Knose of East Hartford joined the Manchester Historical Society’s event in order to learn more about the monuments and Connecticut’s connection with the Civil War. “It’s fascinating to go around and see the monuments,” she said. “It certainly changed America, that war.”
Manchester’s Civil War monument is located in Center Memorial Park at the intersection of Main and Center Streets. Dedicated in 1877, it is a “soldier’s monument,’ depicting a young soldier looking off with a concerned crease in his brow. Made of bronze, the statue required cleaning in 2005 to remove the green and black streaks caused by natural corrosion.
Manchester resident Don LaPlante said he remembered the conservation of Manchester’s statue. He visited several Civil War sites in the summer of 2010, and noted that most people, himself included, would not naturally think about Connecticut towns, and even more specifically Manchester, as having a Civil War monument.
The next Civil War lecture will be held on Sunday, April 10, at 1 p.m. at the Manchester History Center, located at 175 Pine St. Historian and author Richard Meyer will reflect on the early causes of the Civil War. Meyer will discuss what caused the North and the South to diverge in their economics, social norms and politics, which eventually ended in war. Parking for the History Center is available along Pleasant Street, off Forest Street and on Pine Street in a small lot next to the History Center. The cost for the lecture is $3 for non-members, $1 for Society members, and free for children under age 16.
The Institute of Local History at Manchester Community College and the Manchester Historical Society are co-sponsoring a talk on Monday, April 11 at 6 p.m. by Bill Hosely entitled, “John Brown: The Connecticut Roots of an American Legend.” Although Brown was raised mostly in Ohio and achieved fame in Kansas, he was a Connecticut native. This program is free and open to the public, and will be held at MCC Culinary Arts Center. For more information about these programs, visit the Manchester Historical Society website at www.manchesterhistory.org.