Smith Memorial Arch (1897 – 1912)

by Various Artists

Photo Caption: Photo Caitlin Martin © 2013 for the Association for Public Art
Avenue of the Republic, West Fairmount Park
1897 - 1912

Commissioned by the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art) bequest of Richard Smith

Owned by the City of Philadelphia


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At A Glance

  • Part of the Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program

  • Richard Smith bequeathed a half million dollars to build a monument to Pennsylvania’s naval and military heroes of the Civil War

  • The design and construction of the memorial was completed by architect James H. Windrim

  • The memorial is comprised of nine busts, three figures and two equestrians, created by various artists

The Smith Memorial Arch was initiated by Richard Smith, a wealthy Philadelphian who bequeathed a half million dollars to build a monument to Pennsylvania’s naval and military heroes of the Civil War. Smith left the design and construction of the memorial to architect James H. Windrim, and the selection and supervision of artists to the Fairmount Park Art Association (now the Association for Public Art).

The memorial is comprised of nine busts, three figures and two equestrians, created by various artists

The Art Association’s 1897 call to artists attracted 59 entries, and 13 artists, among the most distinguished sculptors of the time, were chosen. The loss of some of these artists along the way for various reasons delayed the memorial’s progress, and the project would ultimately take 15 years to to finish. The Smith Memorial Arch was finally completed in 1912 without fanfare – no doubt because public enthusiasm had waned over the years – but the artwork is one of the most ambitious monuments of its period and remains today as a gateway to Fairmount Park.

Smith Memorial Arch in West Fairmount Park
Photo Caitlin Martin © 2013 for the Association for Public Art

The memorial is comprised of nine busts, three figures and two equestrians, created by various artists including Charles Grafly, Alexander Stirling Calder, Daniel Chester French, Edward C. Potter, John Massey Rhind and John Quincy Adams Ward. Notably, the two figures standing atop the arches are Major General George Gordon Meade by Daniel Chester French (left) and Major General John Fulton Reynolds by Charles Grafly (right); the two equestrians situated just below these generals are Major General George B. McClellan by Edward C. Potter (left), and Major General Winfield Scott Hancock by John Quincy Adams Ward (right).

Adapted from Public Art in Philadelphia by Penny Balkin Bach (Temple University Press, Philadelphia, 1992).

Equestrians:

  • Major General Winfield Scott Hancock — John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910)
  • Major General George B. McClellan — Edward C. Potter (1857-1923)

Figures:

  • Major General George Gordon Meade — Daniel Chester French (1850-1931)
  • Major General John Fulton Reynolds — Charles Grafly (1862-1929)
  • Richard Smith — Herbert Adams (1858-1945)

Busts:

  • Admiral David Dixon Porter — Charles Grafly (1862-1929)
  • Major General John Hartranft — Alexander Stirling Calder (1870-1945)
  • Admiral John A. B. Dahlgreen — George E. Bissell (1839-1920)
  • James H. Windrim, Esquire — Samuel Murray (1870-1941)
  • Major General S. W. Crawford — Bessie O. Potter (Vonnoh) (1872-1955)
  • Governer Andrew Gregg Curtin — Moses Jacob Ezekiel (1844-1917)
  • General James A. Beaver — Katherine M. Cohen (1859-1924)
  • John B. Gest, Esquire — Charles Grafly (1862-1929)
  • Two Eagles and Globes — John Massey Rhind (1860-1936)

 

RESOURCES:

 

Museum Without Walls logo: a program of the Association for Public Art

 

Voices heard in the program:

Stacy Levy is an artist living in Pennsylvania who studied sculpture and forestry. She explores the relationships of the natural world and the built environment.

Jeff Cohen is an architectural historian who focuses on the late 19th Century. He is a professor of architectural history at Bryn Mawr College.

Michele Bogart is a professor of art history and criticism at Stony Brook University. She is the author of Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930.

Segment Producer: Rick Karr

Voices heard in the program:

Gregory Urwin is a professor of history at Temple University, where he specializes in military history, especially the political, sociological, institutional and cultural aspects of war. He worked on the Oscar-winning Civil War epic, Glory.

Col. Keith Gibson is the Executive Director of Museum Programs at the Virginia Military Institute. He is the co-author of Moses Ezekiel: Civil War Soldier, Renowned Sculptor, and has served as an historical consultant for several feature films and documentaries.

Louis Kessler is an archivist at Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia, one of the oldest surviving synagogues in the United States.

Andrew Coldren is a consultant for the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia. He is also the curator of the Salem County Historical Society in Salem, New Jersey.

Segment Producer: Richard Karr

A program of the Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association), Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an innovative and accessible outdoor sculpture audio program for Philadelphia’s preeminent collection of public art.

User calls Museum Without Walls Audio for Robert Indiana's LOVE sculpture
Photo Albert Yee © 2010 for the Association for Public Art

A “multi-platform” interactive audio experience – available for free by cell phone, mobile app, audio download, or on the web – Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO offers the unique histories that are not typically expressed on outdoor permanent signage.

Unlike audio tours that have a single authoritative guide or narrator, each speaker featured in Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is an “authentic voice” – someone who is connected to the sculpture by knowledge, experience, or affiliation. Over 150 unique voices are featured, including artists, educators, scientists, writers, curators, civic leaders, and historians.

This artwork is part of the Around the Horticulture Center tour

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