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Cornelius Scranton Bushnell Memorial

Historical Significance

Cornelius S. Bushnell (1829-1896) was a railroad baron turned shipbuilder. The Bushnell Memorial in New Haven, CT, a large, attractive bronze eagle atop a Stonycreek marble base, commemorates the role Bushnell played in building the Monitor, the first commissioned ironclad ship in the U.S. Navy, which launched into service during the Civil War. The base of the monument bears two bronze bas-relief plaques, one of the Monitor, and one depicting the portraits of Bushnell and John Ericsson, the Swedish expatriate engineer who designed the Monitor. Bushnell had supported a Senate bill to create an Ironclad Board of shipbuilders to review designs and grant contracts for the building of an ironclad oceangoing vessel. Although he was proposing a design himself, Bushnell also advocated for John Ericsson’s partially submersible Monitor design after consulting him on the soundness of the design for the Galena. Initially, the Ironclad Board rejected Ericsson’s innovative proposal as too unrealistic, but Bushnell convinced Ericsson to appear before the board in person to defend his design. The Ironclad Board ultimately selected three different designs to be built: Bushnell’s Galena, Merrick & Sons’ New Ironsides, and Ericsson’s Monitor. All three were built, but the Monitor was the first to be completed and commissioned by the U.S. Navy. On March 9, 1862, in the Battle of Hampton Roads, the Monitor strategically defeated the Confederate Virginia (a retro-fitted ironclad formerly known as the Merrimack) in the first battle ever to take place between two ironclad ships.


Conservation Treatment

  • Ÿ Stone cleaning to remove environmental staining.
  • Ÿ Removal of failed mortar between the stone joints.
  • Ÿ Repointing joints.
  • Ÿ Steam-cleaning to remove failed prior coating from the bronze eagle.
  • Ÿ Removal of black and green corrosion products on the eagle and plaques.
  • Ÿ Patination of the bronze eagle and plaques to protect the bronze and to restore the readability of the sculpture.
  • Ÿ Application of a protective wax coating on the bronze eagle and the relief portrait plaque.
  • Ÿ Application of a protective Incralac coating on the relief of the Monitor and the inset bronze lettering on the base.

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