Volunteers restore area around World War I monument

Volunteers restore area around World War I monument

Volunteers cleaning up around Centredale’s World War I monument on July 1 are, from left, Joseph Riccitelli, Scoutmaster with Troop 5 and Environmental Commission member; Boy Scout Noah Riley, Environmental Commission Chairman Rod DaSilva, Boy Scouts Victor Biscocho and Kieran Ward, and Environmental Commission member Ruth Bucci.

NORTH PROVIDENCE – A group of volunteers last week beautified the area around the World War I monument at the Centredale roundabout, making it more visible to the public in time for the Fourth of July.

Ruth Bucci, who heads up the town’s Historic District Commission and is on the Environmental Commission, said Environmental Commission Chairman Roderick DaSilva broached the idea of clearing around the 100-year-old monument so residents can better see it.

There have been a number of cleanups here over the years, but consistent regular care has been lacking.

Bucci said her preference is to keep the monument right where it is, near the former St. Alban’s Church, now Embassy of Christ Church, instead of moving it to the middle of the roundabout as suggested during ongoing talks about future upgrades to the streetscape in Centredale.

“The monument has been there for almost 100 years and should stay where it was put,” she said. “Its location is somewhat protected from traffic. The current location is a picturesque spot for gathering around, reading the plaque, remembering the North Providence men who ‘pledged their lives for the cause of worldwide liberty,’ and taking photos.”

A photo from the 1920s shows that town fathers “placed the monument of the Doughboy on a broad swath of lawn, put a cannon nearby, and apparently included a howitzer or other weapon in the background,” Bucci said.

“Back then, the monument was easy to see as no brush blocked a view of it and there was open space surrounding it.”

On July 1, the Environmental Commission teamed up with the Boy Scouts to clean the area around the monument, known as Albert Darnbrough Square. Together they cleared out overgrown brush and bushes and pruned trees. The Department of Public Works picked up the waste.

In a recent history walk of the area with Centredale School students, Bucci said a 4th-grader asked if he could read the plaque at the monument out loud for the class. The students quieted and the reading was very moving.

“If the monument is moved to inside a roundabout, students and all of us will lose opportunities such as this reading,” she said. “The Stephen Olney School students took a class picture in front of the monument on their Centredale history walk. What a great remembrance for the students, teachers, and, to be honest, for me as well.”

Something else other than the monument could be put in the rotary, she said, perhaps a tree, an artistic sculpture, a monument from a recent war, a statue, or some other beautification “could be chosen to enhance the revitalization of Centredale.”

This is how the World War One monument appeared back in the 1920s, large weaponry included.