- Written by Administrator
- Published: 26 January 2008
The sandstone memorial was damaged in a motor vehicle accident in the 1950s and was taken down for safety reasons. A new committee now wants to make sure the World War I Memorial once again has a home in town.
"In June of this year, I was pursuing another issue about monuments with Trish Pappas, the current Cemetery Superintendent," said Joe Shea, the Chairman of the World War I Memorial Committee. "She offered the fact that a dismantled monument, almost certainly the 'Boomer Square' monument, was stored in the back of the cemetery."
A Department of Public Works crew under the supervision Ed Vickers loaded the pieces onto pallets and moved them to the DPW yard, where Shea said they have been gently washed and laid out for inspection.
The goal of the new memorial committee is two-fold, Shea said, is to help secure Community Preservation Act funds to rebuild the memorial.
Before the committee can get to far on that front, however, it must first find a photograph of what the memorial originally looked like.
"I have been unable to find any photographs or even sketches of the memorial, so it is difficult to know exactly what it looked like," Shea said.
Shea and other committee members have scoured the library and the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society archives, but have yet to turn up a photograph of the monument.
The committee has contacted some companies that specialize in building and repairing monuments, but Shea said they can't really give an estimate for repairing it unless they know the exact dimensions and what it looked like.
"We've started the search for pictures," Shea said. "Postcards were very popular then, and also, when we're searching for pictures, we should see if there is any 8 millimeter film available. Just like now, there had to have been parents filming their kids marching in the school parade."
The committee is looking at an Oct. 15 deadline to apply for CPC funds, and must at least have preliminary plans and costs for the project by that time.
While committee members have yet to turn up a photograph of the memorial, Shea said he has searched the town archives and come up with the list of the 82 Duxbury World War I veterans who were listed on the memorial.
Some of the pieces of the memorial are missing, but Shea said it looks like all of the vital pieces are accounted for.
Selectmen voted to erect the sandstone memorial on the island of land formed at the intersection of Depot and Tremont streets in 1920. In 1924, Town Meeting voted to name the land at the intersection Charles Boomer Square in 1924 in honor of Boomer, the only Duxbury resident to die in service to his country in World War I.
Boomer was born in Pembroke but later moved to Duxbury, where he lived as a farmer on Tremont Street. Boomer died in Syracuse, New York in the Spanish Influenza epidemic that took the lives of many soldiers waiting to ship out overseas during World War I.
The World War I memorial itself was a scaled down copy of the Partridge Academy, Town House, and First Parish Church that stood across the street.
It is unlikely the monument will return to Boomer Square, Shea said, but will instead take its place near two other war memorials at Duxbury Cemetery.
It is the consensus of the memorial committee that the existing monument be rebuilt and not replaced by a new monument.
Committee member Russ Pratt said he doesn't believe it will be that expensive to repair the existing monument, but Shea cautioned that most monuments today are made of granite or marble and that it might be expensive to find someone who specializes in repairing sandstone.
In the coming weeks, memorial committee members will be visiting local newspapers and museums to see if they can locate any photographs of the monument. Committee member and architect Pamela Smith said she will make a sketch of the monument prior to the group's next meeting on Monday morning.
"The monument is really just a puzzle that has to go back together," said Pratt. "There's no reason why we can't get it back together with the right epoxies."