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Smith Memorial Arch and Whispering Benches

Civil war memorial with a romantic side

Smith Memorial Arch

The Smith Memorial Arch. Credit: R. Kennedy for GPTMC


Actually a pair of arches surmounted by tall pillars, the Smith Memorial commemorates Pennsylvania’s military heroes of the Civil War.

Funded by a bequest from Richard Smith, who earned a fortune making printing type, the ambitious project includes 14 separate figures by 12 artists.

In dominant positions atop the pillars stand General George Gordon Meade and Major General John Fulton Reynolds. Major General Winfield Scott Hancock and General George B. McClellan appear on horseback. Curiously, the work’s sponsor, Richard Smith, is also shown as a prominent standing figure.

The sculptors included Alexander Stirling Calder and Daniel Chester French.

Whispering Benches

The stone seating areas at the Smith Memorial are known as the Whispering Benches, because a whisper into the curved wall at one end can be heard at the other end. Visitors have made this a popular spot for a first kiss — or a later one.


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