Recognized as the largest war memorial in the Twin Cities, Victory Memorial Drive commemorates fallen soldiers and nurses from Hennepin County that served in World War I. The beautifully landscaped, tree-lined boulevard is part of the Grand Rounds, a 50-mile tour of parkways and parks around Minneapolis. A striking tribute, the names of 568 men and women from Hennepin County who died in the war are inscribed on bronze crosses and stars.
The flag plaza includes granite balustrade walls, a granite flag base and benches, and new large granite gateway monuments at the entrances to Victory Memorial Drive. For the memorial, more than 4,500 square feet of Lake Superior Green® granite was used.“We knew granite would be the main material from the beginning because of its longevity,” said Jason Aune Landscape Architect at LHB. The new granite also had to be a different color and native to Minnesota in order to preserve the integrity of the original work. The Lake Superior Green® granite supplied by Coldspring was quarried in Isabella, Minnesota, meeting the native material requirement. More than 4,600 square feet of Carnelian® was used for paving the 80-foot-diameter plaza. Additionally, more than 150 square feet of Sierra White®, was incorporated into the plaza surface to create contrast. Radiant Red® was used on the service banners on the gateway monuments.
The granite balustrades around the plaza are an unusual design. Each balustrade appears to be a fancy spindle, but the white space in between each spindle (the negative relief image) looks like the head of a soldier. In the end, there were 66 balustrades created, 44 for the plaza and 11 for each side of the entry gateway.
Another intricate and crucial part of the renovation was refurbishing 10 original bronze plaques that was also done at the Coldspring bronze foundry. In addition, there are 10 original crosses from 1921 that were refurbished, which represent the “Grand Army of the Republic.”
The final dramatic effect is a strip in the granite floor of the plaza that represents Armistice Day – November 11th. At the eleventh hour on that day, a shadow from the flagpole falls across the granite strip, perfectly intersecting it. Bronze inlayed letters on the granite pavers state “Armistice Day, 11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month.”