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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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War Memorials

War Memorials

GRHC - August 8th, 2012

Over the years many war memorials have been proposed and erected in Grand Rapids. The first was the Civil War Monument, which was erected in 1885 and stands in Monument Park at the corner of Monroe Center and Division Ave.


In 1864 a group of citizens attempted to raise $4000 for a memorial monument honoring the Civil War dead of Grand Rapids and Kent County. The total subscription was $600.

In 1920 the City Commission, at the request of another group of citizens, submitted a bond issue to the voters for $500,000 to finance construction of a building in tribute to those who sacrificed their lives in WWI. The bond issue was defeated.

Voters rejected a proposal of another bond issue for $700,000 in 1948 for an addition to the Public Museum commemorating the war dead of WWII and the Korean Conflict.

It’s not that Grand Rapids citizens were lacking in appreciation of the ultimate sacrifice, but rather they wished the monuments to be purely commemorative rather than utilitarian.

The Civil War monument was erected in 1885. WWI Memorial pylons were erected in Fulton St. Park (Veterans Park) in 1918, and the memorial to the dead of WWII and Korean Conflict was eventually added to Veterans Park in the 1950s.

An almost forgotten memorial, “Dean Bridge” was dedicated in 1928 to William H. Dean of Grand Rapids. Private Dean served in Cuba during the Spanish American War. He was one of a handful who volunteered to be a human guinea pig for yellow fever tests. Dean subsequently gave his life. You can read the plaque honoring his sacrifice at the southeast corner of Dean Bridge; you know it as Fulton St. Bridge.

Full Details

TitleWar Memorials
KeywordsWYCE; radio; Grand Rapids; Historical Commission; history; memorials; Civil War; monuments;
Pubdate StringAugust 8th, 2012

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