Looking Back with Aurore Eaton: A grand dedication for Pulaski monumentBy AURORE EATON
November 12. 2017 9:16PM
It took nearly 4 years, but finally, on Sunday, Aug. 21, 1938, the beautiful equestrian monument honoring Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski, a beloved Polish hero of the American Revolution, was unveiled in the center of Pulaski Park in downtown Manchester.
The effort to erect the monument had begun with great enthusiasm at the city’s Pulaski Day event on Oct. 14, 1934 when the Pulaski Memorial Statue Committee was formally organized. This dedicated corps of volunteers from the local Polish American community worked diligently over many months to raise the funds needed to build the monument. The project would eventually be supported by numerous individuals and businesses, the city of Manchester, the state of New Hampshire, and United States government through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project.
The monument’s creator was gifted Manchester sculptor Lucien Hyppolyte Gosselin. His full-size bronze statue of Pulaski mounted on a horse was cast by T. F. McGann & Sons Company, a foundry in Boston, Mass. The statue’s base (called the “socle”) was cut from a 42-ton block of granite from Granite State Quarries in Concord. Gosselin worked on the details of the installation with Thure Nelson, a stone expert from the Federal Art Project.
The dedication day activities began at 1:30 p.m. with one of the largest parades ever to take place in Manchester. The procession, which included about 7,000 marchers, began at the intersection of Pearl and Chestnut Streets. It headed north to Penacook Street, west to Elm Street, south to Merrimack Street, east to Union Street, north to Bridge Street, then west to Pine Street where it disbanded along the west side of Pulaski Park. It took two hours for the procession, which included 15 bands and drum corps and several drill teams, to pass by the viewing stand at City Hall.
The Manchester Leader and Evening Union newspaper reported the next day that “thousands of members of Polish American churches, societies, and clubs from several other communities throughout New Hampshire and Massachusetts joined with their Manchester brethren to do honor to the nobleman of their blood who, as a lover of liberty, gave his life in serving the cause of American independence.” A special train from Boston and a fleet of over 75 chartered buses brought the out-of-town participants to Manchester.
The 172nd Field Artillery of the New Hampshire National Guard, based in Manchester, marched in the parade, as well as hundreds of war veterans. The newspaper reported that children from Manchester’s St. Casimir School paraded in Uncle Sam costumes, and that an “all-girl drum corps from Lynn, Mass., also added color to the parade and was popular with spectators, of whom many proved to be candid camera fans.” Also, there were “many delegations of women and young girls garbed in the picturesque costumes of the various provinces of Poland, and Polish World War I veterans who served either in the Polish volunteer corps or in one of the Allied armies. Included in this group was Pulaski Post, American Legion, of South Boston …” A highlight of the parade was a float depicting George Washington and Brig. Gen. Pulaski seated at the foot of the goddess of liberty.
After the parade, about 10,000 people crowded into Pulaski Park for the dedication ceremony. Joseph Gladysz, president of the Pulaski Memorial Statue Committee, served as master of ceremonies. Gladysz, a local businessman, was a military band leader and the Warrant Officer of the 172nd Field Artillery. Rev. Bronislaw Krupski, pastor of Holy Trinity Polish National Church of Manchester gave the invocation, and Rev. John Puchala of St. Hedwig Roman Catholic Church performed the dedication rites. Accepting the monument on behalf of the city was Alderman Daniel F. Cronin, as Mayor Damase Caron was unable to attend. Among the speakers were New Hampshire Gov. Francis Murphy; Most Reverend John B. Peterson, Roman Catholic Bishop of Manchester; and Col. John Wasilewski, representative of the Polish government who delivered his remarks in both Polish and English.
When introduced during the dedication ceremony, Lucien Gosselin was warmly applauded for his great artistic accomplishment, and he received a similarly sincere show of appreciation at the celebratory banquet held that evening at the Carpenter Hotel in downtown Manchester.
Next week: The legacy of Manchester’s Brig. Gen. Casimir Pulaski Monument.
Aurore Eaton is a historian and writer in Manchester, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or at www.facebook.com/AuroreEatonWriter.