Brookline's Original Cannon - 1942
The Brookline Monument has been one of Brookline's most identifiable landmarks since 1934, when it was placed and dedicated by Brookline's American Legion Post #540. The triangle-shaped plot of land is known as "Veteran's Park", located at the corner of the Boulevard, Queensboro and Chelton Avenues. Most everyone refers to it as "The Cannon."
In 1932, after the Freehold Real Estate Company closed it's Brookline office, which was located in the triangle,the land was purchased by prominent Brookline businessman James McGaffin. On April 18, 1934, at a cost of $5750, he sold it to the city with the intention of the land being designated as the site of Brookline's planned Veteran's Memorial.
A surplus American World War I field artillery piece, a 4.7 inch Gun M1906 was obtained and mounted in the park, as well as a white marble memorial commemorating the local soldiers who served in the Great War. The Veteran's Memorial was dedicated in May 1935.
The howitzer stood for nearly eight years, until another global conflict called it back into service. This time, the cannon was not headed for the front lines in Europe. It was, instead, heading to Jones and Laughlin Steel. The World War I artillery piece was donated by the American Legion to the J&L Mill in Hazelwood to be melted down during a scrap metal drive for World War II.
It happened on October 13, 1942, when John Renner, a foreman at the J&L 16-inch roller, and George Winslow, superintendent of the mill's Hazelwood polishing plant and senior vice-commander of the Brookline Legion Post 540, held a small ceremony before the 4.7 inch cannon was again carted off to war, this time against the empire of Japan. The cannon was inscribed "To Japan via U.S. Armed Forces."
The cannon that we see today was put in place shortly after the end of World War II and the memorial re-dedicated. The pictures here show the original cannon during its last moments in Brookline. The pictures are quite interesting as they show not only the cannon, but in the background is an old-fashioned Pittsburgh Railways yellow box-shaped streetcar and a vacant lot where St. Mark Church now stands. In addition, there is a yellow brick home in the spot now occupied by Nino's Barber Shop.
One last piece of "Cannon" lore. In the early 1990's, after the Gulf War, "Triangle Park" was again the scene of a dedication, this time during the installation of the new bronze plaque commemorating our local soldiers. At that time, the original time capsule was unearthed, and a new capsule prepared with current neighborhood artifacts. The new time capsule was never buried. Somehow it was misplaced and has been A.W.O.L. ever since.
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