The area around the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is highly underutilized as a public space, often vacant, and the structure itself is deteriorating and in disrepair, cluttered with litter and stained with residue. With the receipt of a $10,000 grant, the DPPC has begun a fundraising campaign to repair the structure and make improvements to the landscaping around it. The entire project is estimated to cost $300,000.
The DPPC’s plan will unfold in two phases:
Phase One includes refurbishing the 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.
Phase Two will invest in permanent infrastructure improvements inspired by the monument’s original design and footprint. A low metal fence and concrete columns will surround the monument. Tables and chairs will form a secondary ring beyond the fence, providing an appealing location for Plaza visitors.
Rhode Island’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument
Standing 40 feet high, with stone work fashioned out of granite from Westerly, Rhode Island, the Soldiers & Sailors Monument is a grand work that memorializes the 1,727 Rhode Islanders that sacrificed their lives during the Civil War. Designed by American artist Randolph Rogers, several elements come together in this monument to commemorate Rhode Island’s involvement in the Civil War. In each corner a figure stands 7 foot high, each one representing a different branch of military service. There are also 4 different bronze reliefs depicting allegorical women symbolizing War, Victory, Peace, and Freedom. Reminders to viewers of the important values that were hard won during this difficult time in our nation’s history. Atop the memorial, sits an 11 foot representation of an American. Surrounding the monument are twelve bronze tablets listing the names of those who died in service to their country.
Facing toward Kennedy Plaza is a panel that reads, “Erected by the People of Rhode Island to the Memory of Those who Died That the Country Might Live.” During the dedication ceremony in September 1871, veterans with shredded flags and worn uniforms paraded down the streets of Downtown Providence. Prayers were given, and a chorus of 500 citizens sang in unison. Exchange Place was reportedly filled to overflowing for this special dedication. All who attended claimed it was an appropriate recognition for those who now ‘sleep for the flag.’
Historical records indicate that the original footprint of the monument was much larger, and served as a public gathering space in the heart of the city.
“Downtown Providence’s most prominent public space is Greater Kennedy Plaza and Soldiers and Sailors is its most prominent memorial. 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.”
– DPPC Executive Director Cliff Wood
- Restoration of the monument will require additional donations, both large and small.
- The DPPC will be responsible for stewarding the project and securing the necessary funding to complete it.
- The DPPC is an experienced manager of capital improvement projects. It recently completed a $395,000 grant to improve park space with new lighting, pathways and electricity. It has restored two other historic statues in Kennedy Plaza: The Hiker and the General Burnside Monument.
- You can be a part of this historic restoration by donating today to the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy.
Curious to see if you have an ancestor on the monument? Check out our searchable list of everyone named on the memorial. Keep in mind that this memorial only lists those soldiers from Rhode Island who died in the Civil War, not necessarily all soldiers who fought in the war. Did you have an ancestor who fought in the war? We would love to hear your story. Please email us so we can get in touch.