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World War I Flagpole

    

Location:

Juneau Park at East Mason Street and North Prospect Avenue.  See location in Google Maps.
Features & Materials:  Flagpole, top and base pieces made of bronze
Aldermanic District:  4th

 

The Story

A report surfaced in the June 2nd, 1927 edition of the Milwaukee Sentinel that there was discussion and debate arising as to where to best place a monoument to soldiers and sailors, intended to be erected by the Milwaukee Chapter of the Service Star Legion, an organization of war mothers.

Location debate continued while the group considered designs for the project, and finally settled on a replica "doughboy" statue, of which there were already three erected in various eastern cities.  Unfortunately, Milwaukee's Art Commission rejected the selection, causing members of the Service Star Legion to appeal to Milwaukee's alderman to overrule the Art Commission by resolution.  Alderman John Koerner answered the call, and introduced a resolution at a special Milwaukee Common Council meeting in late July of 1930, which was approved.  This set up a stand-off for a time between the commission and the council, with A. C. Hansen, Secretary of the Art Commission being quoted in an August 1, 1930 Milwaukee Journal article as citing a state law that gave the commission primacy over public art installation decisions, making the council's action void.  It was eventually ruled that Hansen was right, and the Milwaukee Art Commission's decision stood.

This slowed project momentum while the Service Star Legion figured out how to follow through with the Art Commission's request that they hold a contest to pick an artist.  The contest commenced in 1933, and members of the Legion met at the Art Institution on September 18, 1933 to view the 17 models that came in from artists throughout the country.  Alfred G. Pelikan, director of the Art Institution, was quoted in a September 20, 1933 Milwaukee Journal article as saying,"We are just helping to arrange the exhibition.  I was asked to help judge the memorial contest, but I said 'nosiree.'  I've got enough trouble of my own."

While the women of the Service Star Legion ultimately settled on Benjamin Franklin Hawkins' flagpole design, they were reported to have little enthusiasm for it.  Mrs. Louis Manegold, chairwoman of the Legion's Memorial Design Committee, said,"We picked this as the best of the designs submitted, but there was not one in the competition that appealed to us as much as the doughboy.  He seemed typical of the feeling of the boys when we saw them come home in 1919.  This is graceful and impressive, but it doesn't express a thing."

From there, developments moved quickly from approval to planning, and then to a groundbreaking ceremony on August 1, 1934 at the chosen site, a small triangle of land bounded by N. Second St., N. Plankinton Ave. and W. Wells St.  A few months later the project was complete, and a dedication ceremony was held on November 11, 1934, then known as Armistice Day.  The flagpole unveiling was seen as the highlight of the day honoring the 750 Milwaukeeans who lost their lives in World War I.

The flagpole stayed in its location until June 14, 1979, when it was moved to be closer to the War Memorial Center as part of MacArthur Memorial Week, June 07 - 14.  The flagpole had stood taller at its original location, installed atop two octagonal granite stones, but was relocated with only one of those base stones to the new location.1

Reference links can be found below in More Info.
 


Gallery

Lincoln Memorial Statue on the Milwaukee lakefront Lincoln Memorial Statue in its original placement
Close-up of the flagpole base. Close-up of the eagle perched atop the flagpole. Groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial flagpole on August 1st, 1934.

 


More Info

  1. WWI Memorial Flagpole - HPC Inventory Sheet

  2. Wikipedia

  3. WUWM Report - Service Star Legion

 

City Hall
200 E. Wells St., Room B-4

Milwaukee, WI 53202

(414) 286-5712

hpc@milwaukee.gov


 


War Memorial Web Site Credits

Nader Sayadi compiled a majority of the photos and information seen here.  Laura Vanderbilt contributed writing and supporting information for "The Story" sections.