The Teague WWI Memorial Arch: A Chronicle of Its History and Our Restoration Efforts

One hundred years ago, the Teague WWI Memorial Arch was endowed by a local war veteran. It was his dying wish that the memory of those who served and gave their lives in war would always be remembered.

This memorial is dedicated to veterans from across the nation. 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.” 

Source: Maine in World War I, By Jason C. Libby, Earle G. Shettleworth Jr., 2017

Today, this small park provides an important public space, reminding us of our connection to world history. Since its dedication in 1924, the American Legion has held memorial ceremonies here to honor lost service members.


History of the Arch

It was the dying wish of Civil War veteran John M. Teague to leave his wealth for the creation of this memorial arch.

Born in 1846 in New Sharon, Maine, Teague was orphaned at age seven. He joined the Civil War at the age of 16. He had no heirs and was predeceased by his young son. 

In 1922 he bequeathed his life savings to the county to establish a monument for the Franklin County veterans of the first World War. With that gift, the county commissioners at the time agreed to take on the monument and lot for the county in perpetuity.

From 1923 to 1924, members of the community made donations ranging from 50 cents to $25 to acquire the land where the memorial stands today. The monument was erected by the Lewiston Monumental Works and the WW1 Auxiliary. When it was erected, the stone arch cost around $4,000. Adjusted for inflation, that would be around $70,000 today.

On Memorial Day in 1924, a formal unveiling was held to commemorate the monument and honor all our soldiers lost in war.

Below are excerpts from the Franklin Journal and Farmington Chronicle about the monument’s history and dedication. Thanks goes to the Farmington Historical Society for access to their archives of print versions of these newspapers. The print on the later pages of the article is quite small, but legible on the downloadable PDF versions below.


Mt. Blue Area Garden Club Support

Since 1969, the Mt. Blue Area Garden Club (MBAGC) worked to maintain the monument park as a part of its Civic Preservation efforts. The monument was one of the first projects undertaken by the garden club and continued as a source of pride for the club. Over the years, the appearance of the memorial grounds changed as different plantings and floral arrangements were installed and maintained.

Late summer in 2021, as the memorial approached its 100th anniversary, MBAGC determined the monument was overdue for improvements that were beyond the scope of their volunteer efforts. Momentum and interest grew following an initial discussion at the club’s August meeting, with updates occurring at each subsequent meeting. Later that month, President Libby Kaut and Treasurer Marion Hutchinson submitted an initial application to the county commission to fund the improvements.

By the time Farmington celebrated Chester Greenwood Day on December 4, 2021, MBAGC had completed preliminary research on the project and hosted a booth at the fair to help inform the public of the need and to garner support for the overdue improvements.

Karen Clary, Marion Hutchinson, Beth Myers, and Libby Kaut (not pictured) at a booth on Chester Greenwood Day in Farmington

Improvement Proposal Timeline

While the monument is physically located within the town of Farmington, Franklin County owns the lot and the monument. The county has managed a reserve fund for the monument which, at the time of the the August 2021 County Commissioners meeting, held roughly $2,000. This sum would not be enough to cover the estimated costs of the improvements needed to restore the monument and its grounds.

February 1, 2022

MBAGC prepared and submitted a formal ARPA funding application for $40,525 for improvements to the World War I Teague Memorial Arch, including making it handicap accessible and installing benches.

March 15, 2022

MBAGC President, Libby Kaut, and Treasurer, Marion Hutchinson, formally presented the proposal to fund improvements to the monument to the Franklin County Commissioners.

The improvements were minimalist by design, with the goal of increasing visitors’ focus on the arch itself. The proposal called for landscape renovation, cleaning the stone monument, and improved access to the space by adding handicap parking. Also requested was a flagpole installation, turf replacement, removal of the overgrown and invasive Norway maple trees, and installation of a spruce hedge that will mature to provide a dignified backdrop to the monument.

April 5, 2022

Libby and Marion spoke before the Farmington’s American Legion Post members, who are the primary users of the site to request their support. They agreed and entered into a collaborative effort with MBAGC to complete the project together. Later, the local Scout troop also wrote to express its support of the project and offered volunteers to assist if needed as well.

April 15, 2022

The County Commission approved the project and $20,000 in funding for this collaborative effort between MBAGC and Farmington’s American Legion Post. MBAGC members Marion Hutchinson and Beth Myers generously offered to serve as Project Managers for this imposing project.


Improvements Begin

With funding approved, the improvement project was ready to: clean the arch, remove two invasive Norway Maple trees and grind their stumps, remove sod and grade the site, layer on new loam and grass seed, construct a parking area, plant and mulch five Myers Spruce trees, and install a flagpole with a light on the
top.

Below are some photos of the process.

April 22, 2022

Work began with the removal of several invasive Norway maples. This work prepared the site to receive the native spruces that were planted on April 30th. These will grow to form a beautiful evergreen backdrop for the monument.

April 23, 2022

American Legion Post 28 Post Cmdr. Matt Smith and First Vice Steve Bunker cleaned the stone monument. Both men are Farmington selectmen and work part-time at the True North, where they have been trained in the careful process of cleaning and restoring monuments.

May 5, 2022

The Farmington Highway Department installed the base for the flagpole.

May 6, 2022

MBAGC members arrived to remove and save the daffodils before the site was graded. Many were sold for fundraising. Participants were:

Pat Durham, Erica Haywood, Marion Hutchinson, Richard Hutchinson, Leslie Kaut, Libby Kaut, Regina Longyear, Mary McFarland, Beth Myers and her helper Sophia, Sarah Parr, and Annette Tripp.

May 12, 2022

Crew and equipment donated by E.L. Vining arrived to scrape and regrade the grassy areas that had become uneven and patchy. They also used a steamroller to create much-needed parking spaces for visitors.

May 15, 2022

Grass seed was spread by and covered with a protective layer of straw by E.L. Vining to help retain moisture for germination. Dedicated MBAGC members, Marion Hutchinson and Beth Meyers, kept the seeds watered through the hot dry summer days.

August 24, 2022

Today, volunteers with MBAGC water and tend the newly seeded lawn to ensure it gets off to a great start. They are also pursuing registration with the National Registration of Historic Places and adding a sign that will showcase the memorial on Farmington’s historical walking tour. We are also working to organize a centennial re-dedication of the monument on Memorial Day in 2024.

Thanks to All Who Made this Project a Success

Large projects rely on the quiet, unsung efforts of many people. In addition to the Board of Franklin County Commissioners, we give thanks to the following organizations and individuals who made this project possible.

Paid Vendors
  • Arbor Mt. Tree- Dave Eaton
  • E. L. Vining
  • McClure’s Trees
  • Mike’s Stump Grinding
  • The Sign Store
  • True North Memorials: Matt Smith and Steve Bunker cleaned monument

Volunteers and Donations
  • MBAGC Project Mangers – Marion Hutchinson & Beth Myers
  • Adam Dyer – Planted trees
  • American Legion Post #28 member – Drew Goodrich Stake Holder Rep.
  • Franklin County Commissioner Lance Harvell – Stake Holder Rep.
  • Cousineau’s Inc. – Donated mulch valued at $60
  • E.L. Vining – Donated $2,000
  • Farmington Highway Dept. – Installed base for flag pole
  • Farmington Water Dept. – Consulted on water connection
  • Living Acres – Donated compost valued at $90
  • Robert Zundell – Project Consultant
  • RSU #9 Foster Tech – Students removed logs from cut down trees
  • RSU#9 Supt. – Chris Ellington
  • Deb Probert – Stone cleaning consultant
  • Robin’s Welding & Metal Works – Created frame for interpretive sign
  • Signworks – Designed and printed interpretive sign
  • Stake Holder Members – Steve Bunker, Chris Ellington, Drew Goodridge, Lance Harvell, Marion Hutchinson, Libby Kaut, Regina Longyear, Rachel McClellan, Beth Myers, Deb Probert