Battle Monument

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Baltimore, MD
United States
Battle Monument

Located in the center of Calvert Street between Fayette and Lexington Streets, this monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Baltimore, which took place on September 12–14, 1814. The monument was built on the site of the first Baltimore courthouse. Completed in 1825, the Battle Monument is said to have been the first significant war memorial built in the United States and quickly became an emblem of the City of Baltimore, its image used both for the city’s seal and flag. The monument was designed by French architect Maximilian Godefroy, the first professional teacher of architecture in the city. The monument incorporates both Classical and Egyptian motifs. The monument’s base resembles a square ashlar structure. Three stairs, denoting the three days of battle, lead to a false door on each of its four sides. Four griffins are perched above the corners of the structure, upon which is a white, marble column that resembles the fasces (a bundle of rods held together with one or more bands) and symbolizes strength through unity. The names of the soldiers who died during the battle are inscribed on a ribbon that wraps around the column. A statue of the classical figure of Victory stands atop the column and faces south.

In 1964 a small, raised plaza (called Battle Monument Park) was constructed in the center of Calvert Street directly north of, and on axis with, the monument. Low, rectilinear granite walls form raised beds planted with flowering shrubs and ground cover, while also defining a series of articulated alcoves with inward-facing benches. In 1972 a memorial commemorating African American soldiers and their service in U.S. conflicts was installed at the north end of the plaza. The Battle Monument was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.