Erected in 1871, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument of Downtown Providence has only received a one effort at restoration. This occurred in the 90s, when black paint was used to cover the green patina the monument’s copper material acquired throughout the century.
Photo from 1990s renovation
For the last 146 years, the monument has been exposed to the effects of the New England weather without appropriate maintenance. Below, you can see an image of the monument during its initial stage juxtaposed to its present day appearance.
Photo left: Courtesy of Providence Public Library
The current image shows us how the original material has corroded through the paint job. We can also notice how some items– like the fence and cannonballs– are now missing, as well as how illegible the names listed in the plaques towards the bottom have become.
Since 2016, the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy has been leading in an effort to restore this statue which holds cultural and historical significance in our city, our state and our nation.
Here are five reasons you should have a vested interest in this project.
To pay homage and preserve a monument that represents something which is intricate to our nation’s history and remains ever so relevant.
As a nation, we’ve held constant, ongoing dialogue regarding the Civil War, why it happened, why it mattered, and whether it remains culturally and historically relevant; the conclusion to the latter being a resounding “Yes.” Throughout all this dialogue, however, something that hasn’t quite measured up is our actions. This project provides us with an opportunity to ensure the continued commemoration of the thousands of soldiers and families who sacrificed their livelihoods in carrying out their vision for today’s America.
It serves as a visual reminder of our shared culture and complexity as a nation, and how long we’ve been rising and coming together.
Everything in American history up until 1860 was, in a way, leading up to the Civil War and served as a portion for its cause. From the creation of our Constitution, to the first shot fired at the First Battle of Bull Run, it all placed a perspective on each of the War’s opposing sides. However, through the years of opposition and struggle, we still managed– and continue to manage– to become one.
It commemorates all of Rhode Island’s Civil War soldiers.
The state of Rhode Island gave more troops per population than any other. The Soldiers and Sailors Monument pays homage to the 1,727 fallen warriors; some of which were part of the 14th Rhode Island Heavy Artillery Regiment, which was, at the time, referred to as a “colored unit.” This poses the monument’s relevance to, not only our nation’s history, but also a particular focus on the state’s black history as well– seeing as it was the first of its kind.
This was also the only place some of the fallen soldiers’ families could visit to pay their respects as they didn’t get a chance to bury their beloved fighters’ bodies once they were lost in the War.
It’s in a location that forces passersby to observe and focus their attention on the historical significance of this monument.
Located at the heart of Downtown Providence, every Rhode Islander’s capital city, the Soldiers and Sailors Monument finds its home in Kennedy Plaza; a place that allows for residents from all corners of the state to be in its presence on a daily basis. Standing tall and wide, it’s almost impossible for even those running late to their destination to go by without taking notice of such a reverent statue. With its renovation, more attention can only be brought to it by making it an attraction our residents, and even tourists, can visit and observe gleefully as there will be some landscape added to its surrounding area.
This one project guarantees its maintenance for the coming decades.
Included in the financial goal for this project is a maintenance fee that ensures this monument is being looked after long into the decades following the 2010s making this a sustainable solution to the effects of nature on monuments and structures of its kind. All who contribute to its being carried out will be able to see their product– which can be seen below– flourish every season, as well as have an honorable mention in our website and an invitation to the dedication ceremony.
These are just some of the reasons we believe this mission is worth all of our combined efforts. Please consider donating to the Soldiers and Sailors Monument Restoration project by clicking here. Another great way to lend a hand is by spreading the word and sharing our project link with others in your local area.
Help us restore this monument by making a tax-deductible contribution today.
Blog post written by Gia Rivas, as part of Mayor Elorza’s Advanced Internship Pilot