The Groton Monument, sometimes called the Fort Griswold Monument, is a granite monument in Groton, Connecticut. It is dedicated to the defenders who fell during the Battle of Groton Heights on September 6, 1781. The monument was originally 127 feet (39 m) high, but it was later changed in 1881 to commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Groton Heights; the cupola was removed and replaced by an iron-capped pyramid in emulation of the Bunker Hill Monument. The monument bears a plaque describing the events of the Battle of Groton Heights and another plaque with the names of the Americans who died in the battle. In 1918, lightning destroyed the capstone and damaged the adjacent Monument House Museum which features exhibits about the Revolutionary War. Visitors can climb the monument and visit the museum from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The Groton Monument is located in Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park, which includes Fort Griswold, in Groton, Connecticut, United States.
The Groton Monument association was incorporated in 1820 and had the monument designed by the partnership of Ithiel Town and Alexander Jackson Davis. The cornerstone was laid on September 6, 1825 and the monument was completed in 1830. Originally, the monument was 127 feet (39 m) high, but this was later changed in 1881 to commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Groton Heights, the cupola was removed and replaced by an iron-capped pyramid in emulation of the Bunker Hill Monument. As a result of these renovations, the height was extended to 135 feet (41 m) high.
A plaque affixed to the monument above the entrance reads:
"THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT, A.D. 1830, AND IN THE 55TH YEAR OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE U.S.A. IN MEMORY OF THE BRAVE PATRIOTS, WHO FELL IN THE MASSACRE AT FORT GRISWOLD, NEAR THIS SPOT, ON THE 6TH OF SEPT. A.D. 1781, WHEN THE BRITISH, UNDER THE COMMAND OF THE TRAITOR, BENEDICT ARNOLD, BURNT THE TOWNS OF NEW LONDON AND GROTON, AND SPREAD DESOLATION AND WOE THROUGHOUT THIS REGION."
Another plaque details the eighty-eight names of the American defenders who were killed during the battle. The plaque has seven minor errors in naming, with six being minor spellings of the names of the deceased. One significant error is name for Thomas Minard, which should read Thomas Miner.
The monument was repaired and the grounds renovated with an appropriation of $5000 from the State of Connecticut in 1893 and completed by early 1894. In 1901, lightning struck the Groton Monument and any damage caused was noted as trivial because The Day says the event was a "dim memory" and its exact date un-discoverable. In 1918, lightning again struck the monument with great effect. The bolt of lightning shattered the capstone and sent the pieces to the ground before traveling through the brass railings and scattered the cards in one of the wire-racks. The lightning also jumped 25 feet (7.6 m) to the monument house and damaged the veranda, upraising the brick tilling floor and even sticking some to the ceiling and doing minor damage inside the museum. Frederic Bill, attempted to find a fitting match for the original capstone, but could not.
In 1985, Hurricane Gloria blew out a window of the monument. In 1986, the State of Connecticut spent $6250 to re-mortar the monument. The monument was closed until 1989 for the repair work. In 2007, Carol Kimball of The Day wrote that the State of Connecticut has not funding repairs to the historic site, but it would be required if the monument were to continue to survive. Kimball also referenced a New York Times article on the neglected monument and that the bond commission has yet to issue the approved $350,000 for its preservation. Other costs including sidewalks surrounding the entrance, and Memorial Gate itself, would require another $150,000 to repair.
The Groton Monument is formally located in Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park, which includes Fort Griswold, in Groton, Connecticut, United States. The State of Connecticut came to control the site in 1902 and as of 2007, Connecticut's Department of Environmental Protection was the specific branch in charge. On July 1, 2011, the department was reorganized as the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. In 1981, the bicentennial of the battle, the monument was originally scheduled to be closed due to budget cuts, but instead would remain open throughout the season. The monument was expected to be visited by thousands of people during the celebration. There is an adjacent museum operated by the Daughters of the American Revolution, which features exhibits about the Revolutionary War and the battle at Fort Griswold.
Visitors can climb the monument and visit the museum from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
- John Zukowsky, "Monumental American Obelisks: Centennial Vistas," The Art Bulletin, Vol. 58, No. 4 (December 1976), pp. 574-581
- Caulkins, Francis (2010). The Stone Records of Groton. Applewood Books.
- Norman Hammond Burnham, Rufus Avery (1894). "The battle of Groton Heights: a story of the storming of Fort Griswold, and the burning of New London, on the sixth of September, 1781". E. E. Darrow. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "Groton Monument Hit By Lightning 30 Years Ago". The Day. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "Lightning Plays Pranks With Groton Monument". The Day. 15 August 1918. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "Groton Monument To Be Repaired". The Day. 6 August 1986. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Nagy, Barbara (5 September 1989). "Groton Monument Repairs Near Completion". The Day. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- Kimball, Carol (27 August 2007). "Visit The Groton Monument". The Day. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
- "Groton Monument Opening Hailed". The Day. 29 June 1981. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
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