Click to see bridge dedications 1923 and 1998
On the Kittery side, the battle soon focused on the design by Miss Bashka Paeff, a Boston sculptor who had been part of the famous MacDowell artist's colony in Peterborough. NH. Her monument plan depicted a pair of life-sized naked men, drowned in the sea. Above them, a draped fearful female figure cradles a naked child. Powerful and evocative, the sculpture included no military figures and was considered by some as an expression of pacifism. The addition of military inscriptions and smaller figures satisfied the opposition and the bronze piece was cast. The added low relief images on the left show a soldier firing a gun and another throwing a grenade. On the right, a row of soldiers marches into the distance. The back of the monument includes a brass image of Maine seal and the figure of a farmer with a scythe and a sailor with an anchor.
Weighing 2,800 pounds, the bronze plate is considered among the largest set at that time in the United States. The tablet is 11 by 8 feet resting on a granite base 13 feet high. Originally called "The Horrors of War," the monument is one of two in the grassy oval common that locals call "John Paul Jones Park" and was once a training ground for local militia.
INSCRIPTION: (front granite) State of Maine, To Her Sailors and Soldiers; (front bottom of bronze plaque) Lord God of Hosts Be With Us Yet, Lest We Forget, Lest We Forget
DIRECTIONS: Cross the Memorial Bridge from downtown Portsmouth, NH (up State Street) to Kittery. Cross Badger's Island and travel just past Warren's Lobster House to "John Pail Jones Park", an oval common at the intersection of Route 103, Route 1, and the road to downtown Kittery. The large monument is set well back in the common area under some trees facing Portsmouth. Since a roundabout surrounds the common, there is no dedicated parking.
ARTIST: Bashka Paeff (1894-1979) was born in Minsk, Russia, but came to the US as an infant and attended school in Boston, including the Boston Museum School of Fine Arts. In addition to the controversial Kittery, Maine sculpture, she received commissions for war memorials at the State House in Boston and a Lexington Minuteman (but not the will known Lexington Minuteman image). She created many portraits, busts and bas relief images of famous Americans, including Oliver Wendell Holmes and Martin Luther King, Jr.. Her sculpture of President Warren G. Harding's Airedale "Laddie Boy." featured in Smithsonian Magazine online. (Press BACK to return.) The winner of many awards and a member of numerous arts organizations, she died on January 24, 1979.
PHOTOS: J. Dennis Robinson
RESEARCH: JDR, Richard Winslow, Maryellen Burke
SOURCES: Portsmouth Herald; Marquis Who Was Who in America, Vol VII ; New Hampshire, A History by Robert Pillsbury, Vol III. With thanks to Portsmouth Athenaeum and Portsmouth Public Library.
© 1998 SeacoastNH.com. All rights reserved.
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