Written by Joe Scotchie Wednesday, 16 October 2013 00:00
The drive along Roslyn Road to Jericho Turnpike is one of the scenic pleasures of the North Shore as the suburban sprawl is temporarily left behind. This Saturday should bring more beauty to the Roslyn area as the three-year renovation of the Mackay Horse Statue will be completed with a gala unveiling at Gerry Park, one dubbed as StatueFEST.
The unveiling, which is set for 2 p.m., hopes to attract not just a handsome crowd, but also an impressive slate of featured speakers.
The Roslyn Landmark’s executive director, Franklin Hill Perrell, will serve as master of ceremonies. Featured speakers include Town of North Hempstead officials (not confirmed at time of this release) Supervisor John Riordan, Town Clerk
Leslie Gross, Councilperson Anna Kaplan and Legislator Wayne Wink; plus Michael Mackay, the great-grandson of the Mackays and Town of North Hempstead historian and Landmark Society trustee Howard Kroplick, who will unveil the statue.
The day represents the culmination of years of work by the Landmark Society in partnership with the Town of North Hempstead. According to Kroplick, the statue underwent a “meticulous” three-year restoration under the supervision of the Landmark Society and has now been returned to its original grandeur.
“Maintaining the artistic integrity of the five-ton statue was critical; the restoration includes a newly-carved groomsmen’s head, creation of missing pieces and stabilization of the entire statue,” Kroplick said. “Every one of the 72 pieces of 20-ton limestone base was also placed in their original positions.” The statue, he said, was restored by Hugh and Maggie Tanchuck and their artisans at North Shore Monuments. The statue foundation was engineered by Charlie Vachris of Vachris Engineering.
The Mackay statue, Kroplick noted, was modeled after sculptures commissioned in 1739 by Louis XV for the French royal palace, Chateau de Marly. The statues then moved to the Champs-Elysées, were restored and are now on display at the Louvre in Paris. The French statues and smaller reproductions have appeared in such films as Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca, plus The Philadelphia Story and An American In Paris.
From 1901-1947, it stood in the west garden of the Harbor Hill mansion, the 648-acre estate of Clarence and Katherine Mackay. After Harbor Hill was demolished in the late 1940s, the statue stayed on its original site, now part of a private residence in the Village of East Hills. When the owners of that property sold their home, they donated the statue to the Town of North Hempstead with directions that the Roslyn Landmark Society supervise its renovation. Kroplick singled out both Town Clerk Leslie Gross for playing a “vital role” in the transfer of the statue and to Roslyn resident Ian Zwerdling for bringing the statue to the attention of the Society.
The Landmark Society’s statue committee includes Perrell and Kroplick, along with local residents John Santos, Jay A. Corn, Craig Westergard, Robert Sargent and Peter Crifo. Kroplick is the committee’s chairman, Westergard serves as president, while Sargent was a former president.
“Through the combined efforts of the Roslyn community, local governments, the Gerry Charitable Trust and the Roslyn Landmark Society; this historic statue has been restored to its original condition just as it first appeared on Harbor Hill,”
Kroplick said. “This beautiful new location in Gerry Park enables the community and visitors to the Roslyn area to enjoy the statue and to appreciate its Gold Coast history.”
Kroplick added that it is most fitting that the statue be placed in Gerry Park, in the shadow of Harbor Hill.
“Roger and Peggy Gerry, who founded the Roslyn Landmark Society in 1962 and for whom the park is named, would have been proud,” Kroplick said. “The Mackay horse statue is dedicated to the Gerrys, the Mackay family and the people of Roslyn.”