‘To honor the gallant men’

Milford’s Civil War fountain being restored

MILFORD – Mary Lull would have been pleased by what’s happening to her fountain – and not pleased by the publicity.

Lull, the widow of Oli­ver Lull, a Milford attor­ney who died from a rifle bullet wound in the Battle of Port Hudson, would have been happy that the memorial to her husband and other Milford men who died in the Civil War is being well cared for.

Last month, town work­ers dismantled the foun­tain and took it to a water utilities building for res­toration work.

But Mary Augusta Lull wouldn’t have liked the focus on her. She always wanted to keep the at­tention on her husband, and she even requested that when she died, there would only be a small no­tice in the newspapers.

"Mrs. Lull was a very private person not want­ing anything that she did to overshadow her hus­band and his sacrifice during the Civil War," Polly Cote, of the Milford Historical Society, wrote in the "Historical Places QR Tour of Milford."

After the death of her 37-year-old husband, Lull made good use of her life. She went to medical school and practiced in Milford for many years. She was the first woman to serve on the Milford School Board and the first president of the O.W. Lull Women’s Relief Corps.

She was a promi­nent Milford benefactor "whose life was deeply entwined in the commu­nity," according to the town history, which says Lull willed her estate, including her half of the house, to the town.

As a memorial to Col. Lull and all other Milford men who died in the Civil War, she had a fountain built on the west side of her home, called Lull­wood, said to be a beauti­ful two-family house over­looking Nashua Street.

Lull intended the Sol­dier’s Memorial Foun­tain and Light, its formal name, "to honor the gal­lant men of Milford of whatever nation, race or color who pledged or gave their lives to estab­lish and maintain our American Republic," ac­cording the "QR Tour."

"It was her wish that the light over the foun­tain be kept lit and that the property always be known as Lullwood so that the name of Oliver W. Lull might live and be honored by all for what he was and for all that he gave," it says.

According to "The Granite Town," residents enjoyed walking to the fountain on band con­cert evenings, and each year, Dr. Lull entertained graduating seniors on the lawn by the fountain. The library marked the arrival of the Memorial Day holiday every year by turning on the fountain.

With its gaskets in bad shape, the fountain hasn’t worked in a few years.

Joel Trafford, Wadleigh Memorial Library’s facili­ties manager, said Memo­rial Day 2017 is their tar­get for having it back in place and operating as it was meant to.

The fountain stands on a granite foundation in a circular basin 40 feet in circumference. In the center is the "lady of the fountain" is an "alle­gorical figure of victory" made of bronze that’s 12 feet high.

Around the outside edge are stones from ev­ery state in the Union at the time of construction – there were 45.

Trafford said the res­toration work is being according to guidelines from a monument compa­ny that sent professionals to visit the fountain and outline the scope of the project. Workers will use glass beading to strip iron off the old paint to pre­pare it for painting, and the bowl of the fountain will have its old paint stripped off, as well.

The work requires "a tremendous amount of manpower," said Traf­ford, who said it’s worth it.

The fountain "means a lot ot me and to the town," he said.

The fountain was dedi­cated during Milford’s 100th birthday celebra­tion in 1894. At the ap­pointed time, a button was pressed and "nine electric lights flashed our national colors through the fleecy spray, lighting up the fountain and the beautiful grounds far and near as if it were fairy­land," Lull wrote in her "Book of the Fountain," published by The Cabinet Book Print in 1900.

Each of the then 45 United States contrib­uted a piece of granite, marble or other native stone, which was then positioned around the fountain. The stones were placed in the order of the states’ admission to the Union.

The fountain stood in its original location until 1948-49, when it was dis­mantled and stored away as Lullwood was demol­ished to make way for the Wadleigh Memorial Li­brary.

Jennifer Hansen, chair­woman of the library’s board of trustees, said they had looked at send­ing the fountain out for restoration, but it would have cost "tens of thou­sands" of dollars.

So, David Boucher, town water utilities di­rector, approached Traf­ford and offered to take on the project.

Trustees "think it’s fan­tastic" that the work is being done in town, Han­sen said.

"It’s something we’ve been talking about for years," Hansenn said. "We get a lot of people asking about it."