Written by Joe Scotchie Wednesday, 23 October 2013 00:00
The Ellen E. Ward Clock Tower is the symbol of Roslyn. But a new structure, unveiled last Saturday, now promises to have the same architectural impact on the village.
Last Saturday, the Roslyn Landmark Society and the Town of North Hempstead hosted StatueFEST to celebrate the unveiling of the Mackay Horse Statue in Gerry Park.
Despite the overcast day, up to 200 people attended the hour-long event. Numerous politicians attended, including members of the Town of North Hempstead council, plus Roslyn Mayor John Durkin and board member Craig Westergard, who currently serves as president of the Landmark Society. The highlights came from Roslyn Landmark Society Executive Director Franklin Hill Perrell and the descendants of Clarence and Katherine Mackay, the couple that resided in the world-famous mansion, Harbor Hill, where two horse tamers stood for over four decades early in the 20th century. Perrell noted that the horse tamer is more than attractive architecture. Its design, he noted, was influenced by the
Renaissance. Moreover, the horse tamer itself is a symbol representing “barbarian submission” to civilization. Speaking for those Mackay family members in attendance, Michael Mackay, a great-grandson of Clarence and Katherine, said that the statue was “a bittersweet reminder of days long gone, and the haste in which so much of Harbor Hill was lost. It’s a miracle it escaped the bulldozer, and even more miraculous that the Landmark Society could bring it back to life.”
Earlier, Mackay told The Roslyn News that the unveiling was a “really great moment,” one commemorating “the glory of our ancestors.”
The day marked the culmination of a three-year process to have the statue restored and moved from a private residence in East Hills to a public park, one, appropriately enough, named for Roger and Peggy Gerry, the Roslyn couple that helped to found the Roslyn Landmark Society in 1962. Originally, the statue, along with a replica, stood for decades on the grounds of Harbor Hill, the 648-acre mansion of Clarence and Katherine Mackay. When Harbor Hill was demolished in 1947, the statue remained in place, home now to the residence in East Hills. The other statue stood at the entrance to Roslyn High School. It is going through its own restoration project. When the East Hills couple sold their home, they donated it to the Town of North Hempstead with instructions that the Landmark Society oversee its renovation. All this has now happened and Howard Kroplick, historian for the Town of North Hempstead, has singled out both Town Clerk
Leslie Gross for playing a significant role in the transfer of the statue and to Roslyn resident Ian Zwerdling for bringing the statue to the attention of the Society.
The Mackay statue was modeled after sculptures commissioned in 1739 by Louis XV for the French royal palace, Chateau de Marly. A vacation to France in the late 1890s by the Mackay family inspired Clarence to have such statues for his estate. And now the long journey of one of the statues from a private mansion to a private residence to a public park is complete.
“The unveiling of the statue [serves] as the most recent and most significant historic event in Roslyn and serves as a modern day success story marking the collaboration between the Roslyn Landmark Society, the Gerry Charitable Trust, the Roslyn community and local government: A true, grassroots success story that Roger and Peggy Gerry would have been proud to play a role,” said Peter Crifo, a Landmark Society trustee. “The Mackay horse is dedicated to their memory, the Mackay family and the people of Roslyn.”