PITTSFIELD -- The city plans to refurbish and rededicate the Civil War monument in Park Square that honors Pittsfield's 108 soldiers who died in America's bloodiest military conflict.
City officials say the restoration work on the 141-year-old memorial is expected to start this week and last up to six days.
"The conservator we hired found it was in very good condition and impressed with how it survived the weather," said James McGrath, the city's parks and open space manager.
Once ConservArt of Hamden, Conn., completes the project, McGrath said the 25-foot monument will remain covered until the re-dedication ceremony scheduled for Sept. 21 at 10 a.m. Pittsfield's tribute to its Civil War dead was originally unveiled, Sept. 24, 1872.
"[Pittsfield] is the hub for the county and I hope people come out and learn the significance of the monument," said Jeff Thompson, co-chairman of the restoration committee consisting of 14 area veterans.
The $8,500 in private donations the committee raised, coupled with a $5,000 state grant and $5,000 in city funds, will cover the $18,500 restoration cost, according to McGrath.
A combination of several thousand dollars in public and private money initially paid for Sculptor Launt Thompson of Albany, N.Y. to create the monument that fronts Park Square on South Street. A bronze statue of a color sergeant -- the Union soldier who carried the American flag into battle -- stands atop a 15-foot granite pillar.
Two bronze plaques on the pillar list the 108 Pittsfield men who died fighting the Civil War from 1861-1865, including four from the famed all African-American 54th Massachusetts Regiment. In all, historians estimate 660,000 Union and Confederate soldiers were killed during the four-year conflict, the most in any war in American history.
On the monument's west face, below the Massachusetts coat-of-arms also cast in bronze, reads the inscription carved into the granite:
FOR THE DEAD A TRIBUTE. FOR THE LIVING A MEMORY. FOR POSTERITY AN EMBLEM OF LOYALTY TO THE FLAG AND THEIR COUNTRY.
The Civil War monument restoration comes three years after a group of Pittsfield-area veterans spearheaded the $50,000 privately-funded effort to refurbish the Pittsfield Veterans Memorial, just of South Street on Veterans Way. Originally dedicated in 1926 as a tribute to World War 1 veterans, the nearly all bronze monument had started to succumb to vandalism and harsh New England winters.
"The South Street monument restoration highlighted the importance of our city's monuments," McGrath. "We not only want to ensure the longevity of our monuments, but tell the story behind them and [Pittsfield's] role in the history of this country."
To reach Dick Lindsay:
or (413) 496-6233.
If you go ...
n What: Rededication of Civil War monument.
n When: Sept. 21 at 10 a.m.
n Where: Park Square, Pittsfield.