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Maryland's National Register Properties



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Peace Cross
Inventory No.: PG:69-16
Date Listed: 9/8/2015
Location: Annapolis Road (MD 50) and Baltimore Avenue (US Route 1), Bladensburg, Prince Georges County
Category: Object
Period/Date of Construction: 1919-1925
Architect/Builder: John J. Earley
Description: The forty-foot Peace Cross is a memorial to residents of Prince George's County who lost their lives during World War I (1914-1918). The monument is constructed of cast concrete with exposed aggregate selected for its color and distribution. The body is a tan color comprised of chipped flint material aggregate, embellished with inlaid decorative accents of chipped deep pink granite. A wide, centrally placed band of the pink granite runs along north and south sides of the cross. The east and west sides have a narrow inlay of pink granite aggregate outlining the shape of the cross, located a few inches from the perimeter of the structure. The arms of the cross extend five feet from the center on each side and are supported by unadorned, arched concrete brackets; the arms also have arched brackets on top, suggesting the from of a Celtic cross. Contrasting gold, red, green, and blue aggregates were used to form medallions on the crossings. The two medallions display a gold star within a green laurel wreath that is set on a blue background. "U.S." is written in the center of the star with a dark red aggregate. The bottom of the cross has an inscription on each side: "endurance" on the south, "valor" on the west, "devotion" on the north, and "courage" on the east. The Peace Cross is set on a base of cast concrete in a tan aggregate, matching the cross itself. The base has a bronze tablet on the south side of the base. The tablet states, "This memorial cross is dedicated to the heroes of Prince George's County, Maryland who lost their lives in the Great War for the liberty of the world." The bronze tablet then lists the names of the forty-nine soldiers from the county who lost their lives during the war. After the list of names, the tablet reads, "The right is more precious than peace. We shall fight for the things we have always carried nearest our hearts. To such a task we dedicate our lives (Woodrow Wilson)." The Peace Cross retains a high level of integrity. The monument is unaltered with the exception of restoration work undertaken in the 1960s by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. Significance: The Peace Cross, erected 1919 to 1925 as a monument to Prince George's County residents who lost their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces in World War I, is historically significant for its association with the nationwide trend to erect community memorials to fallen soldiers after World War I. It is significant as an expression of the post war era's shared perception of the noble character and valor of the veterans and their cause. In addition, it is architecturally significant as an example of the work of John J. Earley (1881-1945), a Washington, DC area artist and contractor who innovated a process involving decorative use of concrete aggregates. Beginning in 1916, Earley developed and refined the medium of "concrete mosaic" or expose aggregate which transformed the construction trade by allowing for factory fabrication of precast polychrome concrete building panels. Earley's career included notable buildings and monuments in the Washington area and throughout the country. Washington area examples include the "polychrome houses" in Silver Spring and Meridian Hill Park and the Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Washington, D.C. The Peace Cross, with its use of exposed aggregates of various colors, is an early example of the process which Earley developed and popularized. The monument's design, age, tradition, and symbolic value have invested it with its own exceptional significance. The Period of Significance, 1919-1925, represents the time during which the monument was under construction, and ends when it substantially achieved its present form and appearance.

 

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