June 22, 2018
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American Legion, Rockland battle for cannons

Rockland Historical Society | BDN
Rockland Historical Society | BDN
This is one of two Civil War cannons that is at the center of a disagreement between Rockland and the American Legion. This picture is from before 2002 when the cannons were at the Shore Village Museum on Limerock Street.
By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff

ROCKLAND, Maine — The local American Legion post wants to place two Civil War cannons — that have been stored in an impound lot for a decade — at the new Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial.

The city council, however, would need to reverse a decision it made years ago to place the howitzers at another memorial, located downtown.

At the Monday night meeting of the Rockland City Council, Donald Robishaw Sr. of the Winslow-Holbrook-Merritt post of the American Legion asked for the two small cannons to be given to the American Legion. He said they would be placed by the Midcoast Area Veterans Memorial that was dedicated Friday at the Legion property on upper Limerock Street.

Robishaw, a Rockland resident, said the cannons were donated by the U.S. Department of Defense and are not the property of the city.

Mayor Brian Harden said Tuesday that the city’s attorney is on vacation this week but has been looking into the issue.

The mayor, a local historian, said the cannons were donated by the federal government to the local chapter of the Grand Army of the Republic in 1897.
The Grand Army was a group that advocated for the veterans of the Civil War.

The cannons were originally placed on the GAR property — where the Bank of America branch on Union Street is located and later moved to Limerock Street in the 1960s where the Shore Village Museum would also operate.

The cannons remained there until Rockland sold the Shore Village Museum property in 2002 to the neighboring Burpee Carpenter & Hutchins Funeral Home. The large flagpole that had been located with the cannons was moved at that time to Chapman Memorial Park at the intersection of Park and Main streets. The cannons were placed in the city impound lot in back of city hall with the intention of placing them next to the flagpole.

But Harden said there have been three city managers since the cannons were placed in the impound lot and that likely played a role in the move not being made.

Harden said the council decided on the downtown site because it was in the core of the community.

He said there is about $15,000 in a municipal reserve account to maintain such items.

There are two pads for the cannons to be placed at Chapman Park but they are in need of repair, he said. The mayor said the council will await advice from its attorney and then decide what to do with the cannons.

Robishaw said Tuesday, however, that surplus military equipment such as the cannons should be the property of the successor to the GAR. As such, Robishaw said it would be most fitting for the cannons to be placed on the American Legion property because of that site’s historical significance.

The property is near where the first group of Rockland men trained before going off to fight in the Civil War.

Harden praised the new memorial on the Legion property but said the cannons should go with the flagpole.

“It’s OK to have more than one monument in town,” Harden said.

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