File:Smith Memorial Arch West Fairmount Park Philadelphia (cropped).jpg

Smith Memorial Arch, West Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, PA (1898-1912).

Smith Memorial Arch is an American Civil War monument at South Concourse and Lansdowne Drive in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Built on the former grounds of the 1876 Centennial Exposition, it serves as a gateway to West Fairmount Park. The Memorial consists of two colossal columns supported by curving, neo-Baroque arches, and adorned with thirteen individual portrait sculptures (2 equestrians, 3 figures, and 8 busts); two eagles standing on globes; and architectural reliefs of 8 allegorical figures.

History[edit | edit source]

File:Unfinished Smith Memorial Arch circa 1905 LOC 4a12601v.jpg

Unfinished Smith Memorial Arch (circa 1905), with Memorial Hall in the background.

In 1891, Richard Smith (1821-1894), a wealthy Philadelphia electroplate and type founder, created a will which provided $500,000 for a memorial arch to be adorned with portraits of Pennsylvania's Civil War military and naval heroes. Smith deposited the model and designs for the memorial with the Fidelity Insurance Trust and Safe Deposit Company and stipulated that John B. Gest, president of Fidelity, should handle his request; that the architectural designs and construction should be handled by Philadelphia architect James H. Windrim; and that the selection and supervision of sculptors for the specified portraits should be handled by the Fairmount Park Art Association.[1]

The will went into effect upon the death of Smith's wife in 1895, but it was not until 1897 that the Fairmount Park Art Association began work on selecting the sculptors. On May 8, 1898, the initial commissions were awarded, but it took until 1912 before the last sculpture was completed and installed on the arch.[2]

The Estate of Richard and Sarah Smith also funded the creation of Smith Memorial Playground & Playhouse, in East Fairmount Park.

Sculpture[edit | edit source]

File:Smith Memorial Looking Thru South Arch (cropped).jpg

Looking north, through south archway.

Statues[edit | edit source]

Equestrian statues[edit | edit source]

Busts[edit | edit source]

Other sculpture[edit | edit source]

  • Two eagles standing on globes by John Massey Rhind.
  • Eight bas-relief allegorical figures by
  • The Memorial's frieze is carved with the names of 84 Pennsylvania veterans.
  • The Memorial's inscription reads:

THIS/ MONUMENTAL MEMORIAL/ PRESENTED BY/ RICHARD SMITH/ TYPE FOUNDER/ OF PHILADELPHIA –/ IN MEMORY OF/ PENNSYLVANIANS WHO/ TOOK PART IN THE CIVIL WAR/ THEIR STRIFE WAS NOT FOR/ AGGRANDIZEMENT AND WHEN/ CONFLICT CEASED THE NORTH/ WITH THE SOUTH UNITED AGAIN/ TO ENJOY THE COMMON HERITAGE/ LEFT BY THE FATHERS OF OUR/ COUNTRY RESOLVING THAT/ THEREAFTER ALL OUR PEOPLE/ SHOULD DWELL TOGETHER/ IN UNITY.[18]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Fairmount Park Art Association, Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia's Treasures in Bronze and Stone (New York: Walker Publishing Company, 1974), pp. 168-179.
  • Penny Balkin Bach, Public Art in Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1992), p. 208.
  1. Smith Memorial Arch from Historic American Buildings Survey.
  2. Smith Memorial from SIRIS.
  3. Meade statue from Flickr.
  4. Reynolds statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  5. Smith statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  6. McClellan equestrian statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  7. Hancock equestrian statue from Philadelphia Public Art.
  8. For the eight portrait busts, the Fairmount Park Art Association decided that a uniform base was needed. The base designed by Alexander Stirling Calder for his bust of General Hartranft was chosen as the standard for all of the busts on the arch. Source: SIRIS.
  9. Hartranft bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  10. Crawford bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  11. Beaver bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  12. Katherine M. Cohen from AskArt.
  13. Porter bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  14. Dahlgren bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  15. Curtin bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  16. Windrim bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  17. Gest bust from Philadelphia Public Art.
  18. Inscription from Flickr.

External links[edit | edit source]

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