The War Memorial Committee plans to re-erect a memorial to the veterans of “the Great War” in front of the town hall buildings and will be seeking permission at the 2009 annual town meeting to use Community Preservation Act funds for the project.

The War Memorial Committee plans to re-erect a memorial to the veterans of “the Great War” in front of the town hall buildings and will be seeking permission at the 2009 annual town meeting to use Community Preservation Act funds for the project.

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This 1945 photograph of a man from Maine named Roger Witt standing in front of the former WWI memorial has given the War Memorial Committee a vision of what the memorial looked like before it was destroyed.

War Memorial Committee member Joe Shea told selectmen that in 1922 the town erected a 12-foot high memorial to the men and one woman from Duxbury who served in World War I. It was located on the triangle of land at the intersection of Tremont Street and Depot Street in front of town hall. The land was called Boomer Square after Charles Boomer, Duxbury’s only casualty of WWI. According to Shea, sometime in the 1960s, there was an accident and the monument was broken into pieces and then put in storage where it was overlooked for over forty years. Shea said he tripped over the pieces, which had been stored by the Department of Public Works and asked the town manager to appoint a committee to investigate the matter.

By measuring the remains, the War Memorial Committee members have been able to slowly piece together what the memorial looked like and by culling information from town and veterans records and old newspapers, they were able to learn much about the veterans listed on the monument. Then they had a break-through. They obtained a 1945 photograph of a man from Maine  named Roger Witt standing in front of the memorial. The photograph clearly showed what the stone looked like.

The committee was also helped by member Robert “Terry” Vose’s discovery of a drawing from the early 20th century showing the placement of a World War I monument set on a series of granite steps in front of the town hall. Vose, who is in the fine arts business, had the three-foot long drawing restored and framed and he and his wife Judi presented it to selectmen in July. It is currently hanging in the Mural meeting room in the town hall basement.

Shea said the War Memorial Committee will apply to the Community Preservation Committee for $105,000 to restore the monument. The plan is to use as many of the original limestone pieces as possible. The new memorial will be on a 6-inch granite foundation and stand twelve feet high. It will measure six and a half feet high and over two feet deep. There will be 82 names on the memorial.

The Committee would like to see the new memorial standing where the plans show it was originally intended: at the top of the steps on a grassy area in front of the old town hall.

Shea said he is hopeful there might be some money in town trust funds for historic purposes that could be used for the restoration. Committee member Gill MacNab said some of the veterans’ descendents indicated they would like to donate money to the project.

Shea said the committee would present two articles to town meeting: one for the location of the memorial and the second to fund its restoration.

In addition to Shea, Vose, and MacNab, the committee consists of DR&HS director Patrick Browne, Russell Pratt, Holly Morris, Beverly Johnson, Town Historian Katherine Pillsbury and Pamela Campbell-Smith.