Dublin’s Civil War monument is looking for a new home

  • The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

  • The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property. Staff photo by Ben Conant

  • The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property. Staff photo by Ben Conant—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 11/6/2019 1:07:44 PM

The Dublin Select Board is looking for a new home for the town’s Civil War monument after the Dublin Historical Society asked to have it moved from their property.

“We in the Historical Society would like to be able to have the use of that property,” Lucy Shonk said, referring to the space currently occupied by the monument outside the Historical Society’s Schoolhouse No. 1 building on Route 101.

“In the summer, we open that building for people to stop in, but if you put one car in that little U-shaped driveway [built around the monument] then nobody else can get out. It’s really very awkward,” she said.

The Historical Society anticipates more frequent events at the newly renovated schoolhouse, she said, and she hopes to rehome the obelisk and repair the front of the property in advance of the organization’s centennial celebration next August.

“It’s our monument and it’s their land, so it’s kind of our responsibility to move it,” Town Administrator Sherry Miller said on Tuesday.

She said the Select Board had been looking into options since receiving the request from the Historical Society in July.

Selectman Dale Gabel said the decision of where to move the monument and how to manage the expense is ultimately up to Dublin residents. The board was considering the merits of three alternate sites, he said, although they still had to confer with the landowners and lessees.

Gabel said one option would be to relocate the monument to the front of the post office, which is owned by the town and leased to the USPS. Another would be to keep the monument on the Historical Society property but in a different location. A third option would be to establish a small veteran’s park in the lower level behind the town hall.

The town calculated an initial cost estimate of moving the monument, he said, but the chosen destination would ultimately dictate the price. The board plans to draft a warrant article for the 2020 Town Meeting so residents can make suggestions and ask for clarifications in advance.

“There’s just no place to put it,” Shonk said.

Adding she doesn’t believe there was any appropriate space for relocating the monument on the Historical Society property, particularly because they want to install an accessible entrance to the schoolhouse someday. The Historical Society respect and value the monument, she said, adding that the concept of the veteran’s park was most appealing to her.

“Sitting there by itself, people don’t really see it or notice it,” she said, also noting that the concrete base was cracked and the stone itself needed to be cleaned. “It’s a nice looking obelisk. Given the proper treatment and a place where it makes sense for it to be, it’d make a nice centerpiece of a veterans’ park.”

Shonk said that the Historical Society was interested in helping the town to move the statue, but was waiting on more details and information before determining how specifically to help.

“It’s not exactly a simple project,” she said. 

The monument originally stood on Monument Road and was dedicated in 1870. The Historical Society allowed the town to move it to their property in 1929, the year Route 101 was completed.

“Dublin’s obelisk is representative of the earliest type of Civil War monument in New Hampshire,” said Civil War historian and monument expert George Morrison.

He said there were twenty obelisk-type Civil War memorials throughout the state, although each was unique in design.

“It’s not unknown for monuments to be moved, some have moved more than once, and several now stand in entirely different towns from where they were first erected,” he said. 

Morrison said the monument had been damaged by acid rain when he first examined it in 2010. He said that “no aspect” of repairing a monument is cheap: it cost $33,600 to restore Antrim’s “American Soldier” monument and he is not aware of any groups or agencies with funds dedicated to monument restoration.

He also referenced recent controversies about Civil War monuments in other parts of the country.

“When it comes to recent Civil War monument controversies, a platitude that gets more repetition than it deserves, ‘It’s about history,’ is false,” he said. “Monuments are always about memory and controlling the narrative – not about historical reality. And the text applied shifts over time.”

It doesn’t tend to be the veterans themselves requesting monuments, Morrison said, but rather the women associated with the veterans, and their children and grandchildren. Even so, he said, some of the youngest Civil War veterans, typically drummer boys, were alive through the 1950s.

“Today, ‘war’ is a video game or a Spielberg movie – it doesn’t even make the news,” Morrison said, and that the vast majority of Americans can afford not to think about its cost. “Civil War monuments are so numerous because it was the biggest, and worst, [war] that had ever happened. If you consider the immense casualties as a percentage of the population, it would be incomprehensible in modern terms.”

“Certainly this country has been torn apart by monuments of different sorts,” said Shonk. “I don’t see that in our town.”

She said that Dublin has always been respectful of veterans and their contributions, and hoped the new home for the monument does justice to its purpose.

“I like the idea of having a special place for the veterans,” she said.

Morrison plans to deliver two talks on New Hampshire Civil War monuments: One at the Nashua Historical Society in Nashua on Saturday, Nov. 9, and another at South Newbury Union Church in Newbury on Sunday, Nov. 10.

Find out more at www.nhhumanities.org/event-calendar.


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