Figure 1. John Duckworth, architect, G.A.R. Building, 303 Linden St. Scranton, PA. Photo: Doug Kerr. CC-BY-SA 2.0. Wikimedia Commons.

Scranton hosts many fine buildings. Among the best is the 1886 Grand Army of the Republic Building, which was bought by that fraternal organization for Union Army veterans in 1901. The Pedia of Wiki article, to which I’ve linked, does little justice to the beauty of the building, which is owed, in my opinion, more to its exciting and detailed terra cotta work than to anything else.

Figure 2. John Duckworth, architect, G.A.R. Building, 303 Linden St. Scranton, PA. Detail: upper story and attic. Photo: author.

Particularly interesting is the busy basket-weave work visible in figures 6 and 8, and, ironically, the Green Man decoration on the keystone over the entryway (figures 4, 5). There must be a story about the off-kilter column in the turret (figure 3), and in that same figure one can see that there is attractive leaded glass in the lunettes at the top of the Romanesque arches of the upper story windows. There was formerly a Masonic Lodge in the building, and I believe I see All-Seeing-Eye and Compass-and-Square designs in the glass.

Figure 3. John Duckworth, architect, G.A.R. Building, 303 Linden St. Scranton, PA. Detail: upper story and attic and turret. Photo: author.

Credit to Duckworth for the buff-colored details, e.g., in the arches articulating the top story arched windows and the coping stones of the sills of the same.

Figure 4. John Duckworth, architect, G.A.R. Building, 303 Linden St. Scranton, PA. Detail: entryway. Photo: author.

I regret that I am incompetent to identify all of the flora in figure 7. I see poppies and wheat, but the long item on the right and the short, vaguely prim-rosey things on the lower left elude me.

An incautious glance at the G.A.R. plaque (figure 9) might suggest that Lieutenant Ezra S. Griffin was a one-man-band heading up the G.A.R., the Sons of Union Veterans, and the Women’s (!) Relief Corps. But in fact, the G.A.R. was divided into Departments (like Pennsylvania, as recorded in the inscription), and then into local “Posts,” which were named for Union Soldiers killed in the war. In this case, the G.A.R. post, number 139, was named for Lt. Griffin, whose leg was shattered—mortally—at Petersburg. The other auxiliary organizations used the same name.

Figure 9. G.A.R. plaque on G.A.R. Building, 303 Linden St. Scranton, PA., John Duckworth, architect. Photo: author.

Despite the maudlin feelings of reconciliation that we prominently see on display in the later decades of the Civil War cohort’s lives, there were some who never got over their losses in the war. In the South, this was turned into an industry called “The Lost Cause,” whereas in the North it tended to crystalize into feelings of righteousness over the Union and abolition of slavery. But we can see just a smidgeon of personal animus here in the inscribed plaque (figure 9) in the choice of wording “PRISON PENS.”

The splash image at the top of the page is a G.A.R. membership pin from the author’s collection.

Published by gsb03632

A college professor living in Arlington, VA

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