Garden club seeks funding to restore World War One memorial

FARMINGTON — Heading north on Route 27, on the outskirts of downtown Farmington, a memorial arch rises out of a small green lot between the main road and Box Shop Hill Road. The arch is dedicated to the Franklin County veterans of World War One.

The formal dedication was on Memorial Day, 1924.

One side of the arch reads “In Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors from Franklin County Maine Who Served in the World War” and the other reads “Erected By John M. Teague Vet. Civil War Col. 2nd Me. Cav. and his wife Henrietta Hildreth A.D. 1924”.

Teague was orphaned as a young child and joined the Civil War at the age of 16. He had no heirs and was predeceased by his wife and young son. He left his life savings for the county to establish a monument for the Franklin County veterans of the first World War, and the county commissioners at the time agreed to take on the monument and lot for the county in perpetuity.

The monument was erected by the Lewiston Monumental Works and the WW1 Auxiliary. When it was erected, it cost around $4,000. Adjusted for inflation, that would be around $64,000 today.

Since 1969, the Mt. Blue Area Garden Club has worked with the county to maintain the monument park. The monument was one of the first projects undertaken by the garden club and continues to be a point of pride with the club. Over the years, the face of the lot has changed somewhat with different plantings and floral arrangements.

Currently, the club is looking to do a ‘face lift’ on the lot. They are still discussing ideas and gathering information, but they would like to have the lawn redone and have the monument professionally cleaned and restored, and potentially incorporate a living hedge along the property line with the neighboring residence to allow more privacy. The club’s intent is to keep it simple and focused on the arch itself.

While the monument is physically located in Farmington, the county owns the lot and the monument, and the memorial is dedicated to veterans from all over the county. There is a county reserve fund for the monument and during the Nov. 16 county commissioners meeting it was announced that there is about $2,000 in the reserve. The sum would not be enough to cover any of the projects the club has received quotes for.

In general there has been support from members of the community, with one person who has vocalized opposition. The garden club is planning to attend the upcoming American Legion meeting in Farmington to see if the Legion would also support the project. A local Scout troop has written in support of the project and offered volunteers to assist if needed.

The club has requested that the county commissioners allocate money from the American Rescue Plan Act funds to help pay for the restoration project. The county commissioners have not made a final decision on how ARPA funds will be allocated. Commissioner Terry Brann stated that he would support putting the request on the list for consideration when the commissioners begin working on ARPA funds.

Source: Daily Bulldog