Smith Memorial Arch

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Smith Memorial Arch, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA (1898-1912). Looking north, through south archway.
Overall view.
Unfinished Smith Memorial Arch (circa 1905), with Memorial Hall in the background.

Smith Memorial Arch is an American Civil War monument at South Concourse and Lansdowne Drive in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Built on the former grounds of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, it serves as a gateway to West Fairmount Park. The Memorial consists of two colossal columns supported by curving, neo-Baroque arches, and adorned with 13 individual portrait sculptures (2 equestrians, 3 figures, and 8 busts); two eagles standing on globes; and architectural reliefs of 8 allegorical figures.

History[edit]

In 1891, Richard Smith (1821-1894), a wealthy Philadelphia electroplate and type founder, created a will that provided $500,000 for a memorial arch to be adorned with portraits of Pennsylvania's Civil War military and naval heroes. Smith deposited the model and designs for the memorial with the Fidelity Insurance Trust and Safe Deposit Company and stipulated that: Fidelity president John B. Gest handle his request, that the architectural designs and construction be handled by Philadelphia architect James H. Windrim, and that the selection and supervision of sculptors for the specified portraits should be handled by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art).[1]

The will went into effect upon the death of Smith's wife in 1895, but it was not until 1897 that the Fairmount Park Art Association began to select the sculptors. The initial commissions were awarded on May 8, 1898, and it took until 1912 before the last sculpture was completed and installed on the arch.[2]

The estate of Richard and Sarah Smith also funded the creation of Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, in East Fairmount Park.

Sculpture[edit]

Statues[edit]

Statue of Richard Smith, donor of the memorial
John B. Gest, executor of Smith's estate
James Windrim, architect
Eagle by John Massey Rhind

Equestrian statues[edit]

Busts[edit]

Other sculpture[edit]

  • Two eagles standing on globes by John Massey Rhind.
  • Eight bas-relief allegorical figures by
  • The Memorial's frieze is carved with the names of 84 Pennsylvania veterans.
  • The Memorial's inscription reads:

THIS
MONUMENTAL MEMORIAL
PRESENTED BY
RICHARD SMITH
TYPE FOUNDER
OF PHILADELPHIA –
IN MEMORY OF
PENNSYLVANIANS WHO
TOOK PART IN THE CIVIL WAR
THEIR STRIFE WAS NOT FOR
AGGRANDIZEMENT AND WHEN
CONFLICT CEASED THE NORTH
WITH THE SOUTH UNITED AGAIN
TO ENJOY THE COMMON HERITAGE
LEFT BY THE FATHERS OF OUR
COUNTRY RESOLVING THAT
THEREAFTER ALL OUR PEOPLE
SHOULD DWELL TOGETHER

IN UNITY.[18]

References[edit]

Coordinates: 39°58′39″N 75°12′24″W / 39.97750°N 75.20667°W / 39.97750; -75.20667

  1. ^ Smith Memorial Arch from Historic American Buildings Survey.
  2. ^ Smith Memorial from SIRIS.
  3. ^ Meade statue from Flickr.
  4. ^ Reynolds statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  5. ^ Smith statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  6. ^ McClellan equestrian statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  7. ^ Hancock equestrian statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  8. ^ For the eight portrait busts, the Fairmount Park Art Association decided that a uniform base was needed. The base designed by Alexander Stirling Calder for his bust of General Hartranft was chosen as the standard for all of the busts on the arch. Source: SIRIS.
  9. ^ Hartranft bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  10. ^ Crawford bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  11. ^ Beaver bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  12. ^ Katherine M. Cohen from AskArt.
  13. ^ Porter bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  14. ^ Dahlgren bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  15. ^ Curtin bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  16. ^ Windrim bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  17. ^ Gest bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  18. ^ Inscription from Flickr.

Sources[edit]

  • Fairmount Park Art Association, Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone (New York: Walker Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 168-179.
  • Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), p. 208.

External links[edit]