Golden Gate Park
The James Abram Garfield Monument sits on a prominent berm southeast of the Conservatory of Flowers. (For more information of the conservatory itself) According to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park by Chris Pollock and Erica Katz, this monument, the park’s oldest, memorializes the 20th president of the United States. Garfield was tragically shot with two bullets on July 2, 1881, in a Washington D.C. railroad station by disturbed federal office seeker Charles J. Guiteau. Garfield died on September 18, 1881, at a cottage on the New Jersey shore. The statue’s cornerstone laid on August 24, 1884, contains a box filled with collectibles, including a copper plate inscribed with the names of those who built the monument, photos, coins, and a bible. The cenotaph was sculpted in Munich by San Franciscan Frank Happersberger, a native of Dutch Flat, CA, who also sculpted the giant Pioneer Monument next to the city’s main library. Columbia, the female symbol of the United States, sits on the base, shrouded and holding a broken sword, symbolizing Garfield’s assassination. A bronze plaque (missing) shows the president taking the oath of office; it is one of three plaques mounted on the tricolor granite pedestal, made by G. Griffith of Penryn, CA. Two other plaques flank the sides of the pedestal; both are framed with draped flags and palm fronds topped by an eagle with outstretched wings. The cost for the monument was $28,000; the sculpted parts were cast at the foundry of Charles Lenz in Nurmberg, Germany. The monument was unveiled July 4, 1885.
Happersberger was the son of a Bavarian immigrant pioneer, he was born in Placer County, CA, in 1859. His father, Frank Happersberger, Sr., came west from New York to participate in the Gold Rush. Frank, Jr., spent his youth in San Francisco, and first worked as a wood-carver for the San Francisco firm of Kemp and Hoffman. Happersberger received an eight-year education at a German royal art academy. This statue gave him his entree into the San Francisco art world.