Manchester New Hampshire’s VETERANS PARK is located at Elm and Merrimack Streets. Originally named Park Square, it was called Merrimack Park in 1859 and was the scene of a fireman’s muster. At that time the square contained an artificial pond that was supplied water via a culvert from “Mile Brook” on Oak Hill (the pond was later filled in). It was also known as Merrimack Common and Merrimack Square. In 1879 when a Civil War monument was finalized, the area was often called Monument Square.
In 1985 the name of the park was changed to Veterans Park with the dedication of four granite blocks representing veterans who took part in WW 1, II, Korean and Vietnam. On Sunday 23 August 2009, the City of Manchester dedicated a new World War 2 Veterans Memorial. The former memorial had been dedicated 17 June 1944 when 15,000 people gathered for its unveiling. It was not intended to be permanent, and was demolished with the promise by the city to erect a permanent one. Some of the new plaque wording: “It was a promise to remember their courage and sacrifice, you stand before a promise fulfilled.” The names of all 12,233 Manchester World War II veterans are on the monument, with a special note is made of the 323 who didn’t make it home–lost or killed during the war, with a star beside their names.
ABOUT THE POW-MIA MONUMENT
In 1991 a monument for POW-MIA soldiers was added here. The Greater Manchester Veterans Council completed the plans for the POW-MIA memorial in Manchester’s Veterans Memorial Park, and had it constructed in the corner bounded by Central and Elm Streets. It was unanimously approved by the Parks and Recreation Department. The monument consists of a walk bounded by granite posts leading to the monument itself. At the end sits a granite marker with an engraved POW-MIA emblem along with a flagpole will fly the POW-MIA flag. The intent is to reserve this monument area to be so-called hallowed ground.
ABOUT THE SOLDIER’S (Civil War) MONUMENT
The (Civil War) Soldier’s Monument at Veterans Park was erected at a cost of about twenty-two thousand dollars, and was designed by George Keller of Hartford, CT .
On Decoration Day, 30 May 1878, the corner-stone was laid, under the auspices of Louis Bell Post, G.A.R. A sealed box twelve inches long, twelve inches wide and six inches high was placed in a special part in the corner stone. It contained over forty articles: some of which are the city report for 1877, Mayor John L. Kelly’s inaugural address for 1877, one United States postal card, one copper cent of the date 1800 and one for 1812. The small pond described above still existed when the monument was placed, and new trees in the square were beginning to grow. The soldier’s monument was finished and dedicated September 11, 1879.
The style of the monument is modern Gothic, and the materials of which it is composed
are New Hampshire granite and bronze. The design embodies the three-fold idea of a historical and a military monument and a fountain; and, in its cruciform base, includes a basin thirty feet in width, inclosed in a parapet of ornamental character. In the centre of each of the four projecting arms of the basin is a pedestal, on a line with the parapet, supporting each a bronze statue of heroic size, representing the principal divisions of service in the army and navy, namely, the infantry soldier, the cavalryman, artillery-man and sailor. Alternating in pairs between these figures are eight bronze posts for gas-lights, surmounted by our national emblem.
The column fifty feet in height rising from the center of the basin, is supported on a circular pedestal four feet in diameter, and is crowned with a capital richly carved with appropriate Gothic ornament; upon this is placed a colossal statue, in granite, eight feet in height, representing Victory with her mural crown, a shield lying at her feet, and holding a wreath and recumbent sword,–emblematic of triumph and peace. This figure, irrespective of the sentiment which it admirably conveys, is a fine work of art in its attitude, features and drapery. At the base of the column is placed a shield with the arms of the city; while above are displayed flags and weapons, the trophies of war.
Surrounding the circular pedestal is a bronze relief, four feet in height, representing such incidents of recruiting, arming, parting from friends and marching, as tell, in a simple and effective manner, the meaning of the memorial. The base of the pedestal is octagonal in form, and on its west or front side, bears a bronze tablet, on which these words are inscribed,–
“IN HONOR OF
THE MEN OF MANCHESTER
WHO GAVE THEIR SERVICES
IN THE WAR WHICH
PRESERVED THE UNION OF THE STATES
SECURED EQUAL RIGHTS TO ALL UNDER
THIS MONUMENT IS BUILT
A GRATEFUL CITY.”
This inscription was prepared by Mr. Henry W. Herrick, and was selected from the large number contributed by a committee of literary gentlemen appointed for that purpose. Above the bas-relief are twelve gargoyles attached to the cornice of the circular pedestal, and issuing from them are jets of water falling into the basin below. The four principal figures in bronze are works of artistic merit, and were modeled and cast expressly for this structure.
In 1923 an additional Civil War Memorial was installed at Pine Grove Cemetery.
[Editor’s Note: This article is one of several I have written at the request of Don Pinard, Department of Public Works, Chief of Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Division, City of Manchester, New Hampshire. It is a volunteer project (on my part) to better record and share the stories of the men memorialized by the city’s “Military Squares.” All the information specifically within the body of this project is shared copyright free with the City of Manchester and its representatives, with the exception of photographs provided by family or friends who still retain whatever rights conveyed to them by law.]
1. “History of Hillsborough County, New Hampshire; Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis & Co., 1885.
2. From April 1942 Oracle, Manchester Central High School, Viola Lattig.
3. Various newspaper articles including the New Hampshire Union Leader.