Amid the busy streets of downtown Cleveland stands the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument, built to honor the 10,000 Cuyahoga County residents who fought in the Civil War. Almost fifteen years after Major William J. Gleason first suggested the idea of honoring the bravery of these local Union soldiers, the monument was finally dedicated on July 4, 1894. This long anticipated event featured a parade over five miles long, an opening address made by William McKinley, performances by the Great Western Band, and children singing anthems of patriotism.
Despite all this enthusiasm, the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument was subject of hostility throughout most of its planning. City authorities and a few citizens opposed the scheme to locate the monument in the southeast corner of Public Square, where it now stands. After numerous court battles, one of which went to the Supreme Court, and meetings to protest the building site, construction finally began at the location on August 25, 1891.
A committee of twelve former soldiers and sailors were in charge of the monument's planning. The monument was designed by architect Levi T. Scofield, but the entire Soldiers and Sailors' Monument committee contributed with their ideas. The decision to have the monument be either a shaft or a memorial hall was put to a vote at a meeting of Camp Barnett Soldiers and Sailors' Society. Because the votes were split, it was decided to include both styles in the design.
The total height of the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument reaches to 125 feet. Atop the black Amherst stone column stands Lady Liberty in a defensive stance. The column itself is separated into sections by six bands that together contain the names of thirty of the most notable Civil War battles. A bastion fort with guns mounted in barbette connects the column to the monument's building. Surrounding the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument are four bronze statues symbolizing the principal branches of service: the Infantry, the Cavalry, the Navy, and the Artillery. During the planning, the building became a tablet room rather than the originally proposed memorial hall. Inside the building, which became a tablet room rather than the originally proposed memorial hall, the names of the 10,000 Cuyahoga county Union soldiers are carved in the marble walls. Above the tablets, on the east and west walls are the bronze busts of officers who were killed in action. Above the north side door is the bust of General James Barnett, and above the south side door is Captain Levi T. Scofield. The foundation of the column centers the room. On each of the four sides are bronze relief statues portraying the Beginning of the War in Ohio, The Emancipation of the Slave, the Northern Ohio Soldiers' Aid Society, Sanitary Commission, and Hospital Service Corps, and The End of the War.
In 2008, an extensive restoration began on the Soldiers and Sailors' Monument lasting two years and totaling two million dollars. Reopened to the public on June 4, 2010, this symbol of pride for the residents of Cuyahoga county can now be visited and appreciated year round.