Two Bronze Eagles for left and right brick pillars
Bronze Lettered Memorial Tablet, right side entry pillar
Two Decorative Panels in cast stone for left and right pillars
Design work and model for Gateway and Site
Given by George Keith in memory of his son, Eldon, the memorial field awards recognition to a native of Brockton, dedicated to serving on the School Board, who died on a U.S. Government mission in London in 1919. The commemorative plaque tells the story. Keith had bought the land with a stream running through it with the intention of rerouting the stream and reworking the site to create an athletic field. The President of the Brockton Historical Society, presented archival photos and text documenting the origins. The Field was deeded to the city December 5, 1921. “In a letter dated January 8, 1920, George E. Keith had given notice of his intention to give the land as a memorial to his son….Under provision of the deed the school board has ‘sole charge of the management and use of said field for athletic games and other entertainments and purposes of a public nature as well as for school purposes.’”
“On October 28, 1921, the city formally received as a gift the Eldon B. Keith Field. The presentation was made by the son of the late George E Keith as a memorial to another son, Eldon.”
Frederick W. Allen modeled both eagles, the lettered memorial tablet and the two cast stone decorative panels on the pillar below the eagles. He also served as designer and architect for the site.
The bronze in which the eagles were cast from the original clay models shows signs of damage from the elements. As would be expected, they have turned a verdigris color, seen clearly from the back view. The cast stone panels have become weathered, making the details less distinct. The memorial tablet, however, is in good condition. The frame is kept polished, accenting beautifully the decorative elements of the frame. The original wrought iron ornamental gates with two of their supporting pillars have been removed and simple wrought iron fencing has replaced the more elaborate originals. Only two corner sections of the original ironwork remain. The smaller gateway pillars have also been removed except for their flat bases.
Pair of Bronze Eagles
Eldon Keith Field at 128 West Elm Street in Brockton, MA presents a pair of fierce 41 inch tall eagles poised protectively atop flanking watchtowers. Our symbol of American freedom stands guard at the gateway. Open beaks and wings ready to spread in flight warn intruders to beware. They perch on orbs visible high against the sky. The two eagles vary only slightly; the pair face each other on either side of the entrance to the playing field, their heads turned obliquely toward the center. They are not reverse copies of the same eagle. Different in character, expression and pose, they appear as warriors in armor. The neck feathers are ruffled and curled by the winds and the wing feathers hold strong in a vertical overlapping arrangement of the primaries topped by scallops of the shorter covert feathers of the upper arm and wrist of the wing. The eagle on the right leans forward more aggressively with its neck craned for action. They are impressive!
Cast decorative panels (10” h x 30” w)
Two coordinated panels decorate the frieze of the classical architecture of the gateway pillars between the horizontal moldings of the elaborate cornice above and the simpler architrave below; both are of cast stone. The central element featured in each is a memorial wreath of clusters of pointed laurel leaves with berries (ref: BPL memorial tablet), bound where the stems cross by a ribbon bow whose streamers ripple outward along the bottom of the panel.
Bronze memorial tablet (overall max: 20 ½ x 36 5/8 x 1 5/8 thick)
The tablet is centered side to side on the front inset panel of the right entry tower. It measures 18 7/8” across the middle, 20 ½” at the top outside corners and 19” at the bottom corners. Note in the archival photo of the gateway that the tablet had not yet been installed. The height is 36 5/8” at the apex of the curved header to the bottom of the four feet of the base.
The side frame of bundled reeds (fasces), an ancient symbol of power and honor, edges the lettered panel flanking the memorial words with dignity .The lettering is of simple san-serif capital letters with an open feel and spatial clarity for ease of reading. The fasces are bound with a chain of oak leaves in a classical motif symbolizing strength and stability. The Paladian arched header is decorated in a wave border with scrolled ends. The title, ELDON KEITH FIELD, is arranged in an arch underneath. An olive branch with tiny fruit symbolizing victory spans the space under the arch. The base features a border of parallel lines between the plinths of the bundled reeded column supported by four “feet” in the same motif. Between the lettering and the bottom of the frame is a branch of oak leaves with two acorns.
Design and Model for Gateway Architecture and Site
Originally there were three pairs of grand ornamental wrought iron gates even before the memorial tablet to Eldon Keith was installed on the right pillar. (archival photo below courtesy of the Brockton Historical Society) The wide center pair of gates is supported by square brick gateposts built upon pale cast stone molded plinths, capped with molded stone and topped with classical straight sided covered cylindrical memorial urns on pedestal bases. Between those gateposts and the large pillars topped with the eagles is another narrower pair of tall gates of which only the cast bases remain.
The brick and cast stone gateway towers are more ornate and classically decorated with cornice, dentil, basecap, cove and corbel moldings. (See below for detailed description and measurements.)
The fine fence work is believed to have been forged by Frank L. Koralewsky, a highly regarded and award-winning ornamental metalworker of the artisanal community in Boston, also Allen’s friend Atop the vertical spires of the fence were forged fleur-de-lis finials and below and between them were iron ovals connected with collars to the verticals. The finials and ovals of the fence’s original design only remain at a small section of the entryway. The three double gates across the entrance were significantly taller and grander than the fences on either side of the central portion, curving outward at the ends, like an excedra bench of classical origins. (Allen repeats that form on the site design of his Washington Monument in Fall River.)
The perimeter fences extend between simpler matching brick posts outward from the large towers to the street and along the sidewalk. They presented to the people of Brockton a sophisticated and artistic portal to the Memorial Field that welcomed its citizens.
The ground site is set with bricks in a half moon shape behind the gates and past the concrete apron. The portion within the inner circle is set with bricks straight across parallel to the fence in a running bond arrangement. Around this half moon shape are concentric semicircular rows of running bond between two decorative bands in a pattern designed to divide the portion between the bands in thirds with two rays.
The innermost band is composed of three rows of running bond between two soldier courses; the outermost band with five rows of running bond between two soldier courses. The design of the rays is of two rows of running bond between two soldier courses. The pattern of the soldier courses is repeated at the bottom of the bronze tablet in a border of parallel lines.
Eight thick round slightly tapered cast stone posts with an inset rounded cap are secured within the outermost band, each in a tight ring of bricks set on end in the ground and flush with it. The cap repeats the dome to which the eagles cling, the semi-circle of the brick entryway and the curve of the semicircular fence wings, uniting the elements of the overall design.
The Eldon Keith Field was created for the youth of Brockton, its guardian pair of eagles a fitting symbol of a man who served his country with pride and the young people of his city with dedication.
Location: Eldon Keith Memorial Field, 128 Elm Street entry, Brockton, MA
Sizes: Eagles 41” h x 37” w x 33-37” d on half an orb 19” diameter
Bronze Tablet: Overall maximum 36 5/8” h x 20 ½” w x 15/8” thick
Cast Stone Panels: 10” h x 30” w
Sold eagles for $2750
Sold tablet for $750
Designed gateway and site, made a small model for $200
No signature or foundry marks, but 4 holes for fasteners at the back of each indicate that there may have been plaques with that information.
Archival information provided by the Brockton Historical Society, Carl Landaholm, President.
George Keith’s father, Franklin, started a shoe business and George continued it, employing over 10,000 Brockton residents who worked at “Walk Over Shoe,” one of the largest shoe manufacturers in the world at that time. There are two Keith buildings currently on the Historical Register.
Details of the architecture:
12’9” street to top of platform for base of eagles.
Three sections, middle protrudes farther than side portions.
Molding trim and decorative elements look like a light grayish cast stone or concrete mix.
Bricks measure 2 1/8” thick x 7 ¾” wide and the mortar is 5/8” thick between them and special molding bricks make up the frame. The brick material has variances and looks hand-made. Bricks are set in a Flemish Bond pattern.
Height 9’11” to lower cornice molding measuring the brick x 38” wide.
Inset panel at center is 7’5” at the center of the panel between the contrasting corners.
Cast stone corners are 4 ¾” square; molded brick used to make the frame.
Center section protrudes 6 1/4” from the inside section and 9 ¼” from outside section.
12” w x 89 ½” h (set back 6 ¼” from center section)
Depth front to back is 25 ½”
Top of the section is a simple large cove molding on a 3-part crown
19 ½” w x 68 ½” h (set back 9 ¼” from the center section)
Depth front to back is 19 ¼”
Top of the section is a more elaborate scrolled cove in two vertical sections with a rounded divider and squared off outside borders on a plinth-type base.
All three sections sit on a plinth or molded base in three depths front to back like the towers above them. The total base width is approx. 80” with the base plinth approx 10 ¼”w x 19” h
The front and back have the same construction with inset panels on the center section.
Platform for Sculpture
At the top, the eagles sit on a cast stone slab base 33” x 33” square on the top measurement which widens with a cove edge over a wider thick base 38” x 38” centered on crown-molded platform 54” x 54” square.