October 26, 1921: Superior’s City Council condemns Grand Army of the Republic Monument

On this day across the bay in 1921, Superior, Wisconsin’s city council condemned the city’s 1900 Grand Army of the Republic Monument and ordered that it should be razed. The monument was built in 1900 when Superior hosted Wisconsin’s annual convention of the state’s Grand Army of the Republic, which was made up of Civil War veterans of the Union Army. (Duluth’s Albert Woolsen was the last surviving member of the national GAR.) The monument straddled the intersection of Broadway and Tower Avenue. Four curved steel trusses rose from each street corner and met thirty feet above the street at the center of the intersection; a twenty-foot steel centerpiece sat atop the structure, supporting a thirty-foot flag pole—bringing the structure’s total height to ninety feet. At one point the arch contained 220 light bulbs, which illuminated the monument for four hours each night (costs were high: $1 an hour for electricity, about $120 a night in today’s dollars). By 1921 the structure had become unsafe. Superior Fire Chief Ole Norman noted that the base was rusting, making the arch “a menace to public safety.” Commissioner A. D. S. Gilette complained about the demolition cost ($400, about $4,500 today) and and Mayor Fred Baxter expressed his hope the structure could be rebuilt.

Superior’s Grand Army of the Republic Monument, ca. 1910. (Image: Zenith City Press)