01 December 2008 by Published in: General News 9 comments

Downtown Cleveland features one of the most beautiful and impressive Civil War memorials anywhere in the country. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial sits in the heart of downtown Cleveland, and it’s nothing short of spectacular. No visit to Cleveland is complete without at least driving by it and admiring it. It’s a can’t miss.

From today’s issue of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

Memorial

Civil War museum in Soldiers and Sailors Monument may find permanent home in former BP Tower

Relics housed on Public Square

Monday, December 01, 2008

Grant Segall
Plain Dealer Reporter

For 104 years, Cleveland’s beloved Soldiers and Sailors Monument has doubled as a crammed Civil War museum.

The Public Square fixture closed in June for interior renovations, but its leaders opened a slightly less crammed museum recently at 200 Public Square, the former BP Tower, and put many relics on display for the first time in memory.

They hope to reopen the monument next fall. But they’re thinking about keeping the museum, known as the Showcase, open indefinitely at 200 Public Square, if building management permits. Building management could not be reached for comment.

The newly displayed memorabilia includes:

A whiskey canteen found, appropriately, at Brandy Station, Va.

A pair of sharpshooters’ glasses with the left lens reversed, which forced the shooter to focus with just his right eye.

A soldier’s chessmen.

A remnant of a shrapnel shell.

A sword originally wielded by a sculpted soldier outside the monument.

The sword was replaced early on by a sheathed sword at the soldier’s side. Neil Evans, president of the monument trustees, speculates that the change might have happened because the original was unstable, swaying and clanging in the wind.

The Showcase also displays eight historic busts at eye level that perched too high inside the monument for a good view.

The busts honor local figures such as Capt. William Smith, who died of war wounds 22 years later.

The monument, owned by Cuyahoga County, contains a wealth of wartime symbols and figures, historic and fictional, military and civilian, black and white, male and female, North and South, human and animal. On top, a statue of Lady Liberty rises 125 feet above Public Square.

The monument is undergoing several years’ worth of interior and exterior renovations, estimated to cost $1.7 million in county, state and private money. A newly hired executive director and a curator will work on the project.

Among many other tasks, workers plan to remove the stained-glass windows today for renovations expected to take four months. They also plan to add a stronger protective layer of clear glass.

“We’ve had rocks thrown through the windows,” Evans said.

Workers already have fixed the sandstone roof and scrubbed the outer walls. They plan to install air conditioning, add gallery lighting and replace the steam radiators with hot-water ones.

The steam seems to be bowing interior tablets that bear the names of more than 9,000 Union soldiers from Cuyahoga County. Some famous surnames, including Rockefeller and Hanna, stand beside unknowns.

A specialist will repair, clean, restain and repaint the interior’s wealth of marble, restoring its once brilliant colors.

“It’s going to be gorgeous,” Evans said.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

gsegall@plaind.com, 216-999-4187

This is a real win-win scenario. That the monument is getting a facelift is wonderful. That the artifacts it houses will be on display and available to the public is even better still. I’m looking forward to visiting the artifacts on my next trip to Cleveland.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Steve Basic
    Tue 02nd Dec 2008 at 3:17 am

    Eric,

    As you know, I used to live in the Cleveland area for many years back in the 1990’s and when I ventured downtown during those days, I used to make it a point to stop there if I could.

    Thanks for sharing the good news about the monument.

    Steve

  2. Eric A. Jacobson
    Tue 02nd Dec 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Eric,

    Did you know the Cleveland monument was designed by Levi Scofield, a 23rd Corps engineer officer who was present at the Battle of Franklin?

  3. Tue 02nd Dec 2008 at 12:52 pm

    Eric,

    Thanks for the great post and that is a wonderful monument. I have no association w/ Indianapolis, but I would like to throw their downtown Civil War monument (and the underground Eli Lilly Civil War Museum) in the ring as another of the best city memorials to the war and soldiers…I’ll try and post some photos from my trip there a few years ago on my blog later this week. Indeed, the whole downtown area is home to a wide variety of war memorials and statuary.

    Keep up the great work.

    Jim Schmidt

  4. Mike Peters
    Wed 03rd Dec 2008 at 11:54 am

    Eric J,

    The sculptor , IIRC, was Levi T. Scofield.

    Mike Peters

  5. Eric A. Jacobson
    Wed 03rd Dec 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Correct, Mike. Scofield has quite a post-war career, including a terrific little book entitled The Retreat from Pulaski.

  6. Wed 03rd Dec 2008 at 9:51 pm

    I walk past that monument every day. Keep meaning to bring my camera to work to go out and work on photographing it, but it’s been so danged cold.

  7. Scott
    Thu 04th Dec 2008 at 9:14 pm

    The average reaction in Cleveland to that article –

    Is that what that thing is?

  8. Chris Van Blargan
    Thu 11th Dec 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Having lived in the Cleveland area my entire life, the Public Square monument is a fixture in my memory. I remember going inside for the first time in the mid-seventies with my Dad when I was about ten and being awed at the seemingly endless rows of names. It was my first hint of how very large the war was. The bronze statues on the exterior representing branches of the armed service are stunning. Unfortunately, back in the 70s and 80s it was somewhat scary to go inside as it attracted homeless and a faint odor of stale urine permiated the place (not unlike the Washington Monument in downtown Baltimore). It’s improved a lot since then. I can’t wait to see it after the remodeling. I agree with Jim, above, that Indianapolis’ monument is in the running for the best Civil War monument.

  9. Bruce
    Fri 13th Jul 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Born and raised outside Cleveland, Dad took me there to show me on the list my relative was on it. Still remember it from the 1960’s, impressive to say the least.

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