Groton Monument/Fort Griswold Monument
Fort Griswold State Park, Groton
This thing really should have a better name than “Groton Monument.” But then again, its big brother 400 miles south is just called the Washington Monument. I guess this is why I’m not in the monument naming game.
But I am in the “Climbing Towers in Connecticut” game. From rickety old fire watchtowers deep in the western woods to handsome granite war memorial towers at the shoreline, I climb them all.
I had the added “bonus” of having my two sons with me to conquer this one. We were in the midst of an all day boy’s trip: Two museums, the beach, some ice cream, a brewery, and this tower. (Mama was in Oregon at a wedding.)
Yes, I survived.
In a funny way, this tower is one of the most difficult to ascend. The spiral staircase is very tightly wound, and at the risk of sounding crass, some of our more rotund friends literally could not climb this thing. It is also stiflingly hot on summer days. AND, on top of all of that, there is often a line to ascend.
It’s not so much a line out the door, but since passing people on the stairs is very difficult to nearly impossible, only one group at a time is permitted up and down… and each trip can be 15 minutes or so.
And, oddly, the viewing windows at the top are super tiny, so that’s a little bit of a disappointment, I must admit.
For his part, Calvin ascended the tower fairly easily. I was worried for Damian, but he did pretty well. Both boys essentially crawled up the thing, as that was the most efficient way of going about it. Damian sort of quit halfway up, but didn’t need much prodding to continue.
There is a LOT of history with this tower and the battles it memorializes. So let’s get to the edited version of some of that:
The Groton Monument, sometimes called the Fort Griswold Monument, is a granite monument… dedicated to the defenders who fell during the Battle of Groton Heights on September 6, 1781. The monument was originally 127 feet high, but it was later changed in 1881 to commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Groton Heights; the cupola was removed and replaced by an iron-capped pyramid in emulation of the Bunker Hill Monument. The monument bears a plaque describing the events of the Battle of Groton Heights and another plaque with the names of the Americans who died in the battle. In 1918, lightning destroyed the capstone and damaged the adjacent Monument House Museum which features exhibits about the Revolutionary War. Visitors can climb the monument and visit the museum from Memorial Day through Labor Day.
The plaque reads: “THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED UNDER THE PATRONAGE OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT, A.D. 1830, AND IN THE 55TH YEAR OF THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE U.S.A. IN MEMORY OF THE BRAVE PATRIOTS, WHO FELL IN THE MASSACRE AT FORT GRISWOLD, NEAR THIS SPOT, ON THE 6TH OF SEPT. A.D. 1781, WHEN THE BRITISH, UNDER THE COMMAND OF THE TRAITOR, BENEDICT ARNOLD, BURNT THE TOWNS OF NEW LONDON AND GROTON, AND SPREAD DESOLATION AND WOE THROUGHOUT THIS REGION.”
There’s more to the story via Wikipedia if you’re interested. Judging by how many times this place has closed due to not having any funding for repairs, I’ll bet it’ll close for good at some point during my lifetime. Oh well, I got up it in 2015.
There are three museums at the base of this tower: The attendant Monument House Museum, the tiny Bill Memorial Library Museum, and the Avery-Copp House Museum a couple blocks away.