Arch Tours & History
Bushnell Park Foundation volunteer Arch Guides offer free tours of the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch on Thursdays from noon – 1:30 pm, beginning the first Thursday in May through the end of October, weather permitting. Show up between those hours and our guides will give you a tour depending on your schedule. Tours can be 20-40 minutes in length. If a tour has to be cancelled due to weather, we will let you know on our website.
If you have a large group or would like to request a tour outside of the routine weekly hours, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request. Due to the volunteer nature of the tour guide program, we may not be able to honor all requests, but we assure you that we will do our best.
The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch
The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch was designed by Hartford architect George Keller, whose ashes were buried in the east tower when he died in 1935, along with those of his wife, Mary, who died in 1946. The arch was dedicated on September 17, 1886, –the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam–to honor the 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in the Civil War, and the 400 who died for the Union.
This Gothic monument is made of brownstone from Portland, Connecticut, and cost about $60,000 (from the city treasury) to build. Notice especially the terra cotta frieze depicting scenes from the Civil War, and midway below it, eight-foot-tall statues representing the various kinds of residents who left their homes, families and businesses to fight in the War: student, farmer, freed slave, stone mason, carpenter and blacksmith. The original terra cotta angels–Gabriel and Raphael–which crown each tower, were replicated in bronze and replaced in 1987 as part of a $1.5 million restoration.
Be sure to read the bronze plaque under the freed slave which honors the 128 African American residents of Hartford who fought for the Union. This plaque was the result of research by Airron Bethea, a seventh grade student in Hartford, who was writing an essay in 1987 for the rededication of the restored Arch.
Learn more about the Arch by going on a tour!
Become a Guide
Learn more about becoming a tour guide here.