The Soldiers Monument at Front and Low streets, whose stone soldier is sometimes known as “Civil Sam,” will be getting its first face-lift in more than a century next month.
The village American Legion post will be working during May to restore the names of the local soldiers that are inscribed around the base of the monument, and the village will then install new lighting.
The Legion stepped up last year after village officials noted that aging had made some of the names on the monument difficult or impossible to read.
“This is a veterans monument and we saw the need to get it done,” said Everett Manning, commander of Legion Post 234. “This is the symbol of the service veterans have performed for our country.”
The monument, dedicated in 1888, has the names of local soldiers who served in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Mexican War and the Civil War.
Its dedication attracted thousands of people, according to Mayor John P. Romano.
It was Romano who began organizing a restoration project about a year ago.
“Over the last 123 years, this historically important monument has suffered the effects of time and the elements,” Romano said.
The monument features a Union Army infantryman, known to local residents as “Civil Sam,” atop a tall granite pillar.
There is a long list of local soldiers’ names around the monument’s base, and some of the names are now almost illegible. It is said to include the name of every soldier who served in the four conflicts from the towns of Milton, Ballston, and Malta.
Manning said the Legion will be paying about $8,000 to have the names repainted or sand-cleaned by professional restorers. “It’s work that requires a high degree of skill,” he said.
The Village Board on Monday approved a schedule under which Low Street near the monument will be closed on May 7, so preparation work can be done. The actual restoration work will start on May 9, and take about a week.
“We’re trying to get all the work done before the Memorial Day parade,” Manning said.
Romano said no street closure is expected while the actual work is being done.
In the 1880s, the construction of the monument was a major undertaking by prominent citizens of what was then a prosperous village built around mills on the Kayaderosseras Creek. Among those who helped was local paper mill owner George West, who was a U.S. congressman at the time the monument was dedicated.
Romano believes a restored monument, together with plans to build a memorial to New York state submarine service veterans nearby, could make the village more of a destination for people interested in military history.
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