The Battle of Memorial Bridge
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Written by SeacoastNH Archive

439_memorial_bridge00SeacoastNH.com Presents 
Historic Portsmouth #439

 

The $1.5 million Memorial Bridge linking Portsmouth, NH and Kittery, ME, dedicated in 1923, was a phenomenal accomplishment with three 300-foot sections spanning the Piscataqua River. Begun at the close of "The War to End All Wars”, the tallest lift bridge in the country was to be dedicated to soldiers from both states lost in the recent conflict. Monuments were planned for both approaches, but Spanish-American and Civil War veterans became embroiled in a battle over the purpose of the dedication. (Continued below)

 

On the Kittery side of the river a controversy arose when the sculpture designed by Russian-born artist Bashka Paeff was rejected as not warlike enough. Maine Gov. Percival Baxter had set aside funds for the artist, but the incoming governor later refused to deliver the checks because “the design is more of a glorification of pacifism than of his state's part in the world conflict” the Portsmouth Herald reported.  The sculpture and Kittery memorial, recently restored in 2005, was adapted to include a few more bellicose symbols and the funds were paid to the artist. Here Gov. Baxter is seen cementing in a small plaque at the bridge dedication. In another picture that previously appeared here, the governor is holding an unhappy five-year old Eileen Dondero who would later become mayor of Portsmouth. (Courtesy Portsmouth Athenaeum)

Gov. Percival Baxter cementing a plaque at the dedication of Memorial Bridge over the Piscataqu River in 1923

See MORE PHOTOS of Memorial Bridge

Building Memorial Bridge

1924 view from memorial Bridge

Little girls opens big bridge in 1923

Bridge guards Nazi subs

Sacrifices of War Memorial in Kittery, ME