About-face:Florist raises money to rotate Civil War statue

LEWISTON — For 20 years, local florist Mike Blais has made Kennedy Park's Civil War monument part of his regular tour of Lewiston-Auburn.

Civil War Statue
Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Mike Blais, owner of Blais Flower Shop, is having the Civil War monument in Kennedy Park moved to the position in which it was originally placed, facing toward City Hall. "Right now, he has his back on the city, and none of those guys turned their back on the city," Blais said. He is standing, above, on the side the monument should be facing.

"I'd drive people around and show them the Bates Mill and tell them that history and about the Civil War, and then I'd take them to Kennedy Park and tell them how it was named after the president visited," Blais said.

And then he'd get to the monument, the same one adorning city parks, town halls and courthouses across Maine and much of the East Coast. It's the same statue, with one crucial difference: Lewiston's soldier faces the wrong way.

"He has his back turned on City Hall and the center of the park — pretty much the whole city," Blais said. "And it always bothered me."

Blais is ready to do something about it. With the city's blessing, he's raised $1,600 and hired a monument-maker to turn the soldier around. They are scheduled to uproot the solider at 11 a.m. Wednesday, face him toward City Hall and put him back in place.

Blais said he learned about the wayward soldier by doing a history report in college.

That statue was purchased by the city and installed soon after the Civil War, he said. Many cities, north and south, used the same statue, designed by Sabattus-born sculptor Franklin Simmons, to adorn their memorials.

"The basic rule was, in the north, they were supposed to face south," he said. "And in the south, they were supposed to face north. It was supposed to look like they were going to war."

Lewiston's statue never faced south. Instead, city fathers chose to have it facing west, toward City Hall.

It was taken down in the 1930s for maintenance, Blais said, and put back facing east, toward Bates Street.

"One thing is clear: It was never meant to be facing north," Blais said. "It can face south, or it can face west. Right now, it faces east and that's always bothered me."

At the end of each summer, Blais' flower shop raises money for a local charity. This summer, he decided to make the soldier his cause.

"Whatever seedlings or hanging baskets we still have at the end of the year, we let people take them if they make a donation," he said. That raised $1,300. Blais and some friends donated the rest. The work is being done by Collette Monuments.

staylor@sunjournal.com

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 's picture

Direction

This question came up in a Boston Globe column (“Ask The Globe,” 21 January 1991, Pg. 24). William Miller, managing editor of Civil War magazine, answered that statues of Union soldiers and Confederate soldiers were not uniformly positioned so that they would be facing south and north, respectively. Miller reported that the decision on the placement of these monuments was dependent on the organizations that commissioned the work and on the sculptors themselves. He goes on to say that you need look no further than to Richmond’s Monument Avenue (http://groups.msn.com/CivilWarBattlefields/monumentaverichmondva.msnw) for a dismissal of the claim. (snopes also briefly touches on this more strict belief that statues of specific Confederate figures who died in war face north and those who later died in peacetime face south. It’s smack dab in the middle of this page (http://www.snopes.com/military/statue.htm)).

 's picture

"The basic rule was, in the

"The basic rule was, in the north, they were supposed to face south," he said. "And in the south, they were supposed to face north. It was supposed to look like they were going to war."

Let's show some unity and take them all down.

Jeff Douglas's picture

sure

and forget the whole thing ever happened.....

 's picture

York

York has an even more interesting Civil War memorial mix-up. They somehow ended up with a statue of a Confederate on their pedestal
http://img.groundspeak.com/waymarking/0c55a97a-271a-448f-a9ae-79731e6d70...

 's picture

As ridiculous as I find this

As ridiculous as I find this entire effort, I am thankful and must commend Mr. Blais to personally raise the funds to accomplish this.

 's picture

Leave it to the two nabobs of

Leave it to the two nabobs of negativism to take a positive comment and turn into something spiteful and hate filled. Of course the overwhelming majority disagree with the fact the Mr. Blais raised the money on his own, they probably would have preferred to have the government steal the money from some unemployed worker.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

.."Of course the overwhelming

.."Of course the overwhelming majority disagree with the fact that Mr. Blais raised the money on his own"
How do you know that?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

The parrot sez it's a cousin

The parrot sez it's a cousin to the kebob.

 's picture

perhaps if I had used the

perhaps if I had used the adjective nattering, you would have recognized the quote from one of you idols.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

What idols would those be;

What idols would those be; can you name ANY?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Before anyone else sez it.

Before anyone else sez it. "He was another republican crook!!!"

 's picture

You are correct, and thank

You are correct, and thank goodness blue nose Miller isn't around, or I'd turn to ice. And you'd have to be really old to get that reference.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It's a cerebral inclination

It's a cerebral inclination precipitated by DNA. He can't help himself.

Mark Elliott's picture

because he's Tron...that's

because he's Tron...that's all he needs.

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