By Jonathan Phelps
---- — WENHAM — The push to build a war monument in town has come a long way over the past four years, but is now $90,000 short of becoming a reality.
Despite what might seem like a major fundraising hurdle, the War Memorial Committee hopes to have the long-awaited monument built by next fall. The monument is expected to cost about $197,000, said committee Co-Chairman Bruce Blanchard, an Army veteran who has been closely involved with the memorial from its beginning four years ago.
The final design for the monument was approved by Town Meeting last fall, after four years of back-and-forth discussions between different town boards and committees over its location and design. Planning for the monument began in 2007.
“It has been a very long, grinding process,” Blanchard said. “Yeah, $90,000 is something more than a minor hurdle. But we can get over that.”
He said the toughest part of planning the monument was the political process and getting the needed approvals to move forward.
“We finally got through all of that, and we are happy to get it to a point where it is going to get done,” Blanchard said. “So far, the fundraising has gone very well, and it looks like we are going to make our deadline.”
The monument will be a tribute to Wenham residents who served during World Wars I and II and the Vietnam and Korean wars. It will sit on the Car Barn Lot, a parcel at the corner of Arbor Street and Route 1A across from Town Hall.
The monument will stand nearly 18 feet tall. It will be a light-colored granite column, topped with a granite globe and a bronze eagle. The eagle will be landing on the United States, signifying the return of American servicemen to their homes, Blanchard said.
Eye-level plaques will list the name of every Wenham resident who has enlisted in the military and served since the Civil War. Below the plaques will be five medallions, each bearing a seal of a branch of the military.
So far, about $107,000 has been raised, $60,000 of which came from the estate of Winthrop Perkins, a Wenham resident who served in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany during World War II.
The committee hopes to raise the remaining $90,000 by February in order to get the monument built by the fall of 2013. The project will be completed in two phases, Blanchard said.
The second phase will include landscaping and the placement of a number of benches, he said.
To reach the goal, the committee has written grants, has asked residents to donate and will send fliers around town this week seeking donations.
“We are going to ask everyone in town to help out,” Blanchard said. “We aren’t using tax dollars, so we need to seek donations, even if it is nickel and dimes.”
Blanchard said construction cannot start until all the money has been raised.
To donate, make checks payable to “Veterans’ War Memorial Gift Fund” and sent to Town of Wenham, War Memorial Fund, 138 Main St., Wenham, MA, 01984.