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Photo © Gavin Stamp
Design for American Monument

War memorials

France: Aisne-Marne American Monument and Cemetery, Chateau-Thierry

Architect: Paul Phillipe Cret
Owners: American Battle Monuments Commission
Location: Belleau, France

Situated on the summit of Côte 204, is the huge Aisne-Marne American Monument commissioned by the American Battle Monuments Commission in 1926 to mark the achievement of the counter-attack by U.S. troops against the German advance. This is a major work by the Franco-American architect Paul Phillipe Cret and is a powerful essay in the monumental stripped-Classicism which became the universal civic style between the world wars on both sides of the Atlantic. It consists of a double colonnade of square fluted piers raised above a podium and steps. The central, wider bay is solid and against it are placed – on the side facing east towards Chateau-Thierry – a stylised American eagle and – on the other side – two heroic figures representing the United States and France. The sculptor was French-American artist Alfred Bottiau. The monument was inaugurated in the presence of General Persing in 1937.

Just to north-west is Belleau and the  Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, with 2,289burials. It was first laid out in 1922 but is now dominated by the Chapel, a building with a tall tower in a simplified Romanesque style. Built in 1926-32, this is again the work of Ralph Adams Cram (who had good military connections, having earlier designed the U.S. Military Academy at West Point).

Gavin Stamp

American Battle Monuments Commission 

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