Scituate Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Plymouth County)

ScituateLocation: Lawson Green, junction of First Parish Road and Beaver Dam Road, Scituate
Coordinates: 42°11’57.9″N 70°45’09.2″W
Date dedicated: June 17, 1918
Architect/Sculptor/Manufacturer: James Craig & Co. (manufacturer); Raymond Averill Porter, sculptor of infantryman

Located on Lawson Green at the junction of First Parish Road and Branch Street. It was dedicated on June 17, 1918 even as some 125 men from Scituate were fighting in World War I. The primary inscription reads, “Erected by the Town of Scituate in Memory of its Soldiers and Sailors 1861-1865.” The monument was originally proposed by Scituate’s wealthiest resident, the “Copper King” Thomas W. Lawson around 1903. He went so far as to build a foundation for it but, according A.A. Seaverns, the adjutant of the local GAR post, “the over-free expression of opinion on the part of some of his fellow citizens influenced him to change his mind.” Another source states the controversy more bluntly. The question of Lawson’s proposed $50,000 gift to the town was raised at a town meeting and “it was received with so much derision and contempt that the agent refused to submit the offer of the gift.” Frustrated, Lawson offered the funds to Winchester, Massachusetts where he kept another residence.

Often embroiled in various controversies, both local and national, Lawson was a headstrong figure who showed disdain for the local leaders of Scituate and therefore their rejection of his gift is not altogether surprising. Still, Lawson managed to keep a hand in the process, and with his involvement, it is no wonder that the Scituate Soldiers and Sailors monument would see further delay, controversies and even litigation. In 1916, an injunction was filed to halt the process begun by contractor James Craig & Co. due to disagreement between certain Scituate residents and the design committee (the latter group being supported by Lawson). The matter was eventually straightened out in court and construction proceeded.

The result is a handsome granite monument featuring two bronze statues of a soldier and sailor. The sculptor of the sailor is presently unclear. The statue of the soldier was sculpted by Raymond Averill Porter (1883-1949). A copy of this statue was installed on the Civil War monument in Revere, Massachusetts.[1] Two sides of the monument prominently display the names of two Medal of Honor recipients from Scituate, Pvt. William H. Osborne of the 29th Massachusetts and Pvt. Charles N. Gardner of the 32nd Massachusetts.

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[1] An identical statue in Saint Johnsville, New York is attributed to Porter by the Smithsonian Institution Research Information System

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