Location: Island Grove Park, 200 Park Avenue, Abington
Coordinates: 42°06’40.8″N 70°56’23.5″W
Date dedicated: June 10, 1912
Architect/Sculptor/Manufacturer: Bela Pratt (sculptor of eagle)
Abington Memorial Bridge and Arch at Island Grove Park, dedicated on June 10, 1912 as part of the town’s bicentennial observances. The Grove, before the war, had been a popular meeting place for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society. William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Abby Kelley Foster, and Lucy Stone were among the many prominent reformers who spoke here. Capt. Moses Arnold of Abington, a veteran of the 12th Massachusetts Infantry, donated a large marker in 1909 to commemorate the abolitionist meetings at Island Grove. Shortly after, as commander of the GAR Post, he led the effort to create the Memorial Bridge and Arch at the Grove.
Capt. Arnold, who was wounded while serving as a lieutenant with the 12th Massachusetts Infantry in the infamous Cornfield at the battle of Antietam, led a postwar career consistent with the classic American Gilded Age tales. Just 21 years old in 1865, he began with a small shoe shop. By 1875, he had built a large factory in Abington and ran one of the largest shoe manufacturing operations in New England.
Dedicated to the soldiers and sailors from Abington lost in the Civil War, the bridge and arch were built at a cost of $23,000. The stunning eagle atop the memorial arch was sculpted by Bela Lyon Pratt (1867-1917) whose notable works include the statues of Art and Science outside Boston Public Library, the Civil War Army Nurses’ Memorial in the Massachusetts State House, and the New Bedford Whaleman’s Memorial. Pratt also sculpted Malden’s striking Civil War monument known as “The Flag Defenders.” Attendance during the dedication was estimated at a remarkable 10,000. This was likely due to the fact that, up until a few days before the event, President William Howard Taft was scheduled to attend as the keynote speaker. He cancelled and Congressman Robert O. Harris gave the keynote address in his stead. As part of the town’s tricentennial observances in 2012, residents voted to appropriate funds to restore the monument. Work was completed and the arch rededicated in 2015.
Sources: Sharon Orcutt Peters, Abington, (Charleston: Arcadia Press, 2002), 80; “Dedicates New Memorial Arch,” Boston Herald, June 11, 1912, 16.