Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Missionary Monument (Memorial Arch)

Throughout his career, Joseph Silsbee had the ability of being able to build strong relationships with individuals.  Through those relationships, he was often hired for multiple buildings for the individual, their businesses and associated institutions.  In many places across the country, there are small groups of buildings by the architect that can be attributed to this phenomena.     
One such grouping of buildings is in Oberlin, Ohio.  Most of the Oberlin Buildings were awarded to Silsbee through his association and friendship with College Treasurer, James Severance.  The most prominent of the Oberlin structures is the Missionary Monument, locally known as the Memorial Arch.  Design on the structure began in 1901.  Construction began in 1902 and in 1903 it was dedicated as a monument to commemorate missionaries from Oberlin that were killed in Shansi province during the boxer Rebellion.
It is a Classical Revival structure situated as an entry point to campus on the western edge of Tappan Square.  A later campus plan proposed by Silsbee had the Memorial Arch as a focal point of the design and the main entry to campus. 
It is constructed of limestone with red granite panels below the cornice and inside the arch.  In plan, the arcade forms an exedra shape, a semi-circular form Greek architecture that was associated with gatherings and phlosophical discussion.  Various forms of ornament adorn the structure. Oak leaves, palms, laurel wreaths, and other forms associated with memorial and remembrance are included.

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