Cleveland’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument actually replaced a previously existing monument to that 27-year-old hero of the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie against the British, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. (Perry’s monument was relocated to the lagoon at Wade Park near Cleveland’s University Circle.)
The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument honors the thousands of local Union veterans of the Artillery, Infantry, Cavalry and Navy. Those four divisions of military service are each represented on a different side of the monument’s base by a large and dramatic sculpture by the monument’s architect, Captain Levi T. Scofield.
The monument’s base is a square structure housing the memorial chamber, within which individual names are engraved on tablets, accompanied by stained glass, sculpted military badges, large bas-relief panels of war scenes, and busts of notable figures and officers killed in action.
All of the monument’s sculptures and bas-reliefs are noteworthy for their dramatic staging, muscular action, and verisimilitude of character, dress and weaponry. The memorial structure sits atop a 100-foot square sandstone plaza set into the landscaped southeastern quadrant of the City’s Public Square.
Rising to a height of 125 feet from the richly detailed memorial chamber is a hefty dark and banded granite shaft topped by a 15-foot tall statue of The Goddess of Liberty. Marking the north and south entrances into the memorial chamber are bronze doors and guardian bronze eagles. The shaft of the monument is so located as to center the vista into Public Square from Euclid Avenue, the City’s traditional avenue of commerce.
The monument is particularly striking in its current setting, whether seen against the backdrop of the white stonework of the former May Company department store building to its south, or framed against the 8-story atrium of Hellmuth, Obata, Kassabaum’s massive red stone and dark glass edifice of the former BP Tower, now known as 200 Public Square, to its east.
More information on the monument can be obtained from the memorial support group’s website: www.soldiersandsailors.com.