Monday, May 30, 2016

Ambridge's doughboy statue dedication, Memorial Day 1930

Ambridge's doughboy statue currently stands in P. J. Caul Park, 11th and Merchant Sts., but it once stood further west on 11th St., at the entrance to the Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge, south corner. The doughboy was placed at the bridge about two-and-a-half years after the bridge was opened in December 1927.

Doughboy statue
11th St. at Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge
circa 1930s
courtesy Beaver County Genealogy & History Center

The statue was the result of a joint project of the Ambridge and Aliquippa American Legion posts.

Ambridge's Canady-Hull Post No. 341 and Aliquippa's Post No. 225 had two doughboy statues made, one for each side of the bridge. These World War I memorials were dedicated on Memorial Day 1930.

A platform was erected in the center of the bridge for the ceremony which included speakers from both boroughs, Beaver County commissioners, and representatives of district and local American Legion organizations. "Amplifiers" were placed at each end of the bridge so that even those not standing near the platform could hear the proceedings. The Ambridge High School and Aliquippa High School bands played at the ceremony.

The dedication ceremony followed parades by war veterans and "patriotic organizations" in Ambridge and Aliquippa.

The above information came from the Daily Times, April 19 and May 28, 1930.

I don't know when the doughboys were moved from their first locations near the bridge. But I do know that the original large bronze plate with the preamble of the American Legion Constitution that was on the base of each statue, was replaced on the Ambridge doughboy's base in 1950. You can see a photo of the Ambridge Memorial Day 1950 ceremony, plus read the inscription on the newer plate, in the May 25, 2014, blog post "A Memorial Day past." You will see that I originally thought that the ceremony shown in the 1950 photo might have been the dedication of the statue itself, but obviously, it was not. Maybe it was a ceremony dedicating the new bronze plate?

The Aliquippa doughboy statue is now at the borough's war memorial on Main St.

Some facts and figures:

  • The statues and bronze plates were made by the Matthews Company of Pittsburgh.
  • The original granite bases, four feet square and three feet high, were made by the New England Granite Company in Rhode Island. The price was $1,300.
  • Joseph F. Bontempo, Aliquippa, was the architect who designed the "canopies" behind each statue.
  • The cost for the complete construction of the memorials was approximately $10,000.
  • The photo shown above the caption "Statue of an American Soldier at Ambridge-Aliquippa Bridge" is watermarked "E. Simantiras, Photo-Studio, Pittsburgh, PA."

Here's a photo from today's Memorial Day ceremony at P. J. Caul Park. It's nice to see that some traditions continue.

Doughboy salute
Memorial Day ceremony
P. J. Caul Park
May 30, 2016
photo credit: Alan Freed Photography / Ambridge Connection

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