United Church of Christ

Civil War Monument and Memorial Garden


The Monument

Sometime after 1861, led by the Rev. Mr. Hillard, Nelson Augustus Moore, and Selectman George Cowles, church members and Kensington neighbors raised money through a subscription for a monument to commemorate the soldiers from Kensington who served and died during the war. The monument cost $465. It is the first monument in the United States in honor of the soldiers of the Civil War. The fate of the Union still hung in the balance when the monument was dedicated. The memorial was designed by Mr. Nelson Augustus Moore, a church member and noted landscape artist. The brown sandstone shaft was obtained from a quarry in Portland, CT, brought here on a sledge drawn by 14 yoke of oxen, and finished at the Bacon quarry in East Berlin, CT. It was suppose to be dedicated on July 4, but there was a delay and the monument was dedicated on July 28, 1863. It was a hot, humid day and not well attended as the farmers were kept so busy at this season. US Senator Lafayette Foster gave the address while Edward W. Robbins, a church member and son of the late Rev. Royal Robbins, wrote an original poem for the occasion. At the time, there were six names on the monument. Today there are fifteen names (Nelson M. Ritchie who died of his wounds after the war) plus the plaque for the only Medal of Honor soldier from the Town of Berlin: Elijah W. Bacon.

Ten years later, in 1873, a wrought iron fence designed by Nelson Augustus Moore and built at the family factory called Moore and Sons was added.

The cannon nearby is an authentic Civil War cannon and was obtained in 1913 at the 50th anniversary of the monument. The 50th anniversary was a huge three day affair. Governor Simeon Baldwin led the speech making along with Rep. Thomas Reilly and US Senator George McLean. GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) posts throughout Connecticut were invited. Many Connecticut Regiments held reunions. Trolleys ran on a special schedule for the weekend event. On the fence are two plaques. The first notes that it is the First Monument in the United States dedicated to the soldiers of the Civil War – erected in 1863. In 1961 a plaque was added to the fence to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

The monument is lit throughout the night, and is often the destination of our town's annual Memorial Day parade. Photos of its dedication, in 1863, are on display every Sunday morning in the meetinghouse.

Memorial Garden

the Memorial Garden

We have created this Memorial Garden to:

  • Proclaim God’s love in Christ Jesus for all people
  • To provide a honoring place for the remains of our beloved and
  • to create a comptemplative place of solace for those who grieve.

They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more. Then maidens will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow.
- Ezekiel 31:12-13

In 2013 the Kensington Congregational Church established a area next to the existing Civil War Monument as a memorial garden for the internment members and non-members ashes. As shown in the pictures, pavers can be etched with names and dates of the interned. The full terms and conditions for burial of ashes in the Garden can be downloaded HERE.