I’ve Tried Sly… Time to Get Crazy…
The War Memorial Tower on Fox Hill, Vernon
Multiple Failed Visits I Did It!
The first half of this page captures a decade worth of Fox Hill Frustration. Multiple visits only to find a locked door. But, as you’ve now gathered, Vernon’s Parks and Recreation opened the tower up in 2018 again I think. Hallelujah!
I’m admitting defeat.
There comes a time in every man’s life when he must come to grips with the fact that he just won’t get up every tower in Connecticut.
I know, I know… many of you continue to hold out hope. “It’ll be open,” you say. “Just keep asking every single human who works for the town of Vernon,” you plead.
I’ve done that. For half a decade.
I’ve cajoled my coworker, who knows everyone and everything in Vernon. I’ve prodded people at the town hall. I’ve elbowed the town’s parks and recreation department. I’ve sent emails.
I’ve done everything short of breaking the lock (and the law) to get up the dang tower.
So here I am, having “completed” Vernon without the tower. I’m on my hands and knees… when/how can I get up The War Memorial Tower on Fox Hill in Henry Park in Vernon?! Will it help if I call it Rockville?
I held onto the hope for many years, but I’m giving it up today.
Here, read some stuff about the inaccessible tower from the town of Vernon who cares not about my woes.
The War Memorial Tower is a structure located at the summit of Fox Hill in Rockville, Connecticut. It stands in Henry Park and is a memorial to all Vernon and Rockville veterans.
Before European settlers came to the area, the Podunk tribe of Native Americans used Fox Hill as a lookout. During clear weather, one can see Talcott Mountain, as well as Mount Tom and Mount Holyoke. The founders of Rockville cleared the hill of trees and used it as pastureland.
In 1878, a Mr. Jeffery of Meriden built a wooden tower on the summit of Fox Hill. It was used as a recreation area, selling refreshments on the first floor and offering the use of a telescope on the top deck. An 1880 blizzard completely destroyed this tower except the bottom story. Mr. Jeffery’s brother-in-law, the artist Charles Ethan Porter, used this as a studio for several years. After Mr. Porter’s death, the structure fell into disrepair and disappeared.
Does it help that I’ve cleaned up your typos? I’m a nice guy. And here, look, I’ve even written pages dedicated to Charles Ethan Porter!
After World War I, the Town of Vernon and the City of Rockville desired to erect a memorial to the veterans of the World War. At about the same time, E. Stevens Henry bequeathed Fox Hill and the surrounding area to the city. This became Henry Park. It was finally agreed that a stone tower on Fox Hill would be a fitting memorial to the veterans, not only of the World War, but for all wars.
The tower was designed by a New York architect, Walter B. Chambers. He modeled it after a 1500 year-old Romanesque tower near Poitiers, France. It was constructed by the WPA over a period of two years (1937-1939). The total cost was about $71,200. Of this amount, $43,000 was appropriated by the Federal Government; the remainder was made up of local government appropriations and individual donations.
Dedication of the memorial took place on August 5, 1939. There were speeches given by local dignitaries as well as by Raymond Baldwin, Connecticut’s governor, and Vincent Sullivan, the state administrator of the WPA. An American Legion drum corps from Willimantic provided patriotic music, as did chimes from the Union Congregational Church.
Shortly before the memorial was dedicated, a World War I tank had been moved to the hill and was placed northeast of the tower. During World War II, the tank was removed and sent to be melted down as part of the war effort.
The tower is an octagonal Romanesque structure, 72 feet tall and 24 feet in diameter. It sits on a granite platform and is built of local granite quarried in Tolland. The Observation Platform near the top of the tower has stone-arched windows enclosed with glass. The roof is covered with slate shingles. Four bronze tablets are attached to the tower in the arcade. Each is embossed with the symbol of a branch of the United States Military.
A 200-foot long, 26-foot-wide promenade gives access to the main entrance of the tower. The promenade is paved with flagstones set in a random pattern, and has a concrete retaining wall along both sides.
That all sounds wonderful. But until I see this lock open and I get inside and up to the viewing platform, I’ve decided I hate this tower.
Maybe posting this page will do the trick. You’re on the clock, Vernon/Rockville.
Of course I can’t take credit for the tower’s opening, and who knows, maybe it was just my bad luck and bad timing all along. But at some point in 2018, the tower opened!
The clouds parted above beautiful downtown Rockville and a beam of sunshine shone down onto the glorious hilltop in Henry Park. I visited on a bone-chilling, yet bluebird-sunshiney late fall day.
I positively leapt from my car and ran up the tight spiral staircase. My labored breath was due purely to the excitement of being here, not the climb. I wasn’t alone at the top and was struck for a moment that there was a woman with her children up here with a miniskirt on.
The day was windy and in the lower teens. But moreover, had I ascended the stairs behind her… you get the point. Friends, a miniskirt is not an ideal choice when climbing steep spiral stairs.
The views up top are obscured by the windows in the tower. At least for amateur photography. The views of Rockville/Vernon and beyond are fantastic – some of the best in all of Tolland County. I took my time looking out in all directions, stupidly smiling at the fact that I’d finally climbed the War Memorial Tower at Fox Hill at Henry Park in Rockville which is actually Vernon, Connecticut.
My best picture of the view: