Lull stones are missing at Wadleigh Memorial Library
MILFORD – Look around your garden, or in your potting shed, or your cellar, anywhere someone years ago might have stored an interested stone, especially one engraved with the name of a state.
If you find one, Wadleigh Memorial Library officials would be thrilled if you bring it back to the library. The stone might have been part of the Lull fountain, on the library lawn. Formally known as the Soldiers’ Memorial Light and Fountain, it has undergone painstaking restoration and is scheduled to be re-installed before Veterans Day.
Mary Lull, the widow of Oliver Lull, a Milford attorney killed in the Civil War, had the statue and fountain built at her home, on what is now the library’s lawn, to honor the Milford men who died in the war.
Blocks of stone that had been sent from 45 states were placed around the fountain, topped by a statue of a woman, according to the order of each state’s admission to the Union, starting with Delaware and ending with Utah.
But over the years stones disappeared and almost half of them are gone. Missing is the Florida stone, which had been sent north carefully wrapped in Spanish moss, according to the “Book of the Fountain,” published after the memorial was dedicated.
Also missing is the California stone, a “fine block of yellow sandstone,” quarried at Palo Alto, where the first battle of the Mexican-American War was fought, It bears the inscription “Leland Stamford Junior University, California.”
“Some, I would really like to find,” said Mary Ann Shea, the library’s head of circulation, mentioning the Illinois’ stone.
The Illinois secretary of state had sent to Milford a “splended block of white sandstone,” says the book, on which a quote from Abraham Lincoln is etched: “With malice towards none and charity for all.”
As for the “lady of the fountain,” time and weather took their toll. In 2016 the statue was removed from the lawn and taken to a town water department building, and the library’s website shows photos of men at work on the lady and her foundation.
The 133-year-old statue required delicate work, because it was made of much softer material than the foundation, which is being sandblasted, while the “lady” was chemically stripped. of 20 layers of paint — slow, deliberate work to make sure the irreplaceable landmark lasts another 100 years.
Activating the fountain itself is well beyond the library’s restoration budget, say library trustees, and there are no immediate plans to restore it to working order.
Mary Lull was a formidable woman who became a doctor after her husband died and was the first woman to serve on the Milford School Board.
As the plans for the memorial come to fruition, library officials believe she would be satisfied.
Shea said Lull could foresee a time when fixing the fountain’s water system would be too expensive, but she wanted vines and flowers around the fountain and the lights representing our nation’s colors, and she will have them.
Other missing stones:
A block of sunset marble from Connecticut with the inscription “from the lakes of Killarney Ireland” on a leaf of shamrock.
For Kentucky, there is a small boulder inscribed with “KY,” but stalactite from Mammoth Cave is missing.
Nebraska had been represented by specimens of white onyx and water agate and small cobble.
North Dakota and South Dakota were represented by a block of red and white rock on which was cut the name of each state. as well as specimens of alabaster, selenite and black, white and yellow mica.
A block of silver-bearing rock from Nevada.
A slab of green marble from Pennsylvania. On it was cut the autograph of Galusha A. Grow, speaker of the House during the Civil War
For Washington D.C., a block of chiseled marble bearing a facsimile autograph of George Washington and a piece of statuary marble with the autograph of first lady Frances F. Cleveland.
Many other miscellaneous pieces of granite, marble, and other stones also disappeared over the years, including several from New Hampshire.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.