At the end of December, The Rhode Island Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission voted unanimously to donate $15,730 to the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy’s Soldiers & Sailors Monument Restoration Project.
According to Chief Justice (ret.) Frank J. Williams, Chairman of the RI Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission, “As the RI Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission ended its term of service, we decided to give all remaining funds to the Downtown Providence Conservancy to assist in restoring the unique Soldiers & Sailors Monument as it honors all RI soldiers and sailors who perished in the Civil War. It is only right that we do this as one of our missions is to encourage the restoration of all Civil War monuments in the state. The Commission and Advisory Boards, with those voting, agreed unanimously to do this. It is a fitting conclusion of our commemoration of the sesquicentennial along with the restoration of the Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I battle flags ensconced in our State House and now being restored under the auspices of the RI Department of Administration.”
DPPC Development Chair Pat Moran responded to news of the donation in gratitude, “All of us at the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy are so grateful the RI Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission chose the Soldiers & Sailors Monument Project as the recipient of this generous donation. The support of their organization is so meaningful as we work to preserve the memories of these Rhode Island soldiers.”
To date, the DPPC has raised over $230,000 for the project, and can begin preliminary work on the project starting in the spring of 2019. The restoration plans include refurbishing the monument’s stone and bronze in line with historic preservation protocols; fabricating new cannonballs to replace those currently missing; repairing the in-ground lighting that surrounds the monument; and making landscaping improvements around the structure. Once complete, the DPPC will invest in permanent infrastructure improvements inspired by the monument’s original design and footprint, providing an appealing location for Kennedy Plaza visitors.
“Downtown Providence’s most prominent public space is Greater Kennedy Plaza and Soldiers and Sailors is its most prominent memorial,” explains The Providence Foundation’s Executive Director Cliff Wood. “We seek to restore the statue to its original intent so that it may serve its purpose in fostering connections to history and the land upon which it stands.”
Working with the City of Providence and RIPTA, DPPC will manage repairs to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, both the physical structure and improvements to the landscape around it; the entire project is estimated to cost approximately $300,000.
Learn more about this project by watching the DPPC’s short film, Public Memory/Public Spaces. Made by local filmmaker Jamie McGuire it features Senator Jack Reed, Mayor Jorge Elorza and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns. The DPPC continues to raise additional funds at any level. Individuals or organizations interested in supporting the effort are encouraged to contact 401-521-8800 or donate online at www.provparksconservancy.org/statue.
Photo by David Konetski