Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 20 July 2012 00:00
Since the late 1950s, the Roslyn High School horse tamer stood at the front entrance of that institution, making it a symbol of the high school for generations of students.
However, wear and tear took its toll on the structure and in the winter of 2010-2011, it began to deteriorate dramatically, all to the point where it had to be dismantled and moved to North Shore Architectural Stone in Glen Head.
But the Roslyn community isn’t giving up on the horse tamer. Earlier this year, a group calling itself Friends of the Horse Tamer was formed with the goal of raising up to $100,000, a number that could restore the horse to its former healthy self and have it relocated back to its old home on the high school campus.
Barbara Silverman Berke, a Class of 1969 alumna is one of the leaders of the organization. She said that, so far, $30,000 has been raised toward the restoration efforts.
“We’re moving along,” Ms. Berke said of the fundraising efforts, “we’re doing very well.”
Ms. Berke said that funds have come from alumni, students, teachers and retired teachers. Members of the current student body recently held a car wash fundraiser, while contributions have ranged from $10 to a much-welcome donation of $10,000. The organization has even received an anonymous cash donation of $200.
Moreover, funds have come from all across the country and even from alumni in Australia.
“It’s catching on,” Ms. Berke said. “It [the fundraising] surges when there’s publicity.”
In February, when the organization was formed, it listed June 30 was a deadline date for needed funds. Ms. Berke admitted that the date was included to simply get people’s attention and to highlight the urgency of the situation. June 30, obviously, was not a cut-off date, but listed to “light a fire” and get alumni in action. Which has happened.
Ms. Berke added that the $30,000 raised so far is “very heartening” to Friends of the Horse Tamer.
“We’re going to keep at it for a while,” she added. “We’re excited that we’ve got momentum. We have a way to go, but the more people contribute, the happier we’ll be.”
In the course of the fundraising, many contributors have inquired as to why they can’t contribute online at the organization’s website. Ms. Berke said that this is so because checks made to the Roslyn Public Schools are tax deductible. Anyone wishing to contribute can do so by writing a check to “Roslyn Public Schools” at Friends of the Horse Tamer, PO Box 322, Roslyn, NY 11576.
Those who participate in a special commemorative brick purchase program, will have a personalized brick as part of the new high school circle design surrounding The Horse Tamer, Ms. Berke said. News of the organization can be gleaned online at www.friendsofthehorsetamer.com.
Originally, there were two horse tamers. According to The Friends’ website, they made their appearance in 1910 at the 648-acre Gold Coast estate of Clarence Mackay. The horses were modeled on The Horses of Marly, which now stand at the Louvre Museum in Paris. Those horses were commissioned by Louis XIV in 1649.
Dubbed “the wonder of the Gilded Age,” the Mackay estate was designed by the legendary architect Stanford White. The Mackays hosted many dignitaries over the years, including a 1924 gala where over 1,000 guests attended a reception for the Prince of Wales.
With World War II, Long Island was sent into upheaval and the once-mighty Harbor Hill estate was demolished in 1947, replaced by the Country Estates residence.
Following the destruction of Harbor Hill, the second horse tamer ended up at a private residence in the Roslyn area. When ownership of that property changed hands, the current owner did not want the structure and so its stewardship was passed on to The Roslyn Landmark Society. A spokeswoman for the society said that restoration efforts are “99 percent complete” with tentative plans to place the structure at Gerry Park on Roslyn Road.