Written by Joe Scotchie Friday, 04 October 2013 00:00
The preservation spirit remains alive and well in Roslyn.
As noted in last week’s issue of The Roslyn News, the base of the Mackay Horse Statue in Gerry Park is complete. And now, Saturday, Oct. 19 has been set as the big day for the unveiling of the Mackay Horse Statue.
The event, to take place at Gerry Park, will begin on that date at 12:30 p.m. with the unveiling scheduled to take place at 1 p.m. The rain date is Saturday, Oct. 26, also at 12:30 p.m.
The Roslyn Landmark Society and the Town of North Hempstead will co-host the event. Franklin Hill Perrell, Roslyn Landmark Society’s executive director will serve as Master-of-Ceremonies.
In addition, the day will feature appearances by both Nassau County and Town of North Hempstead officials. As a bonus, members of the Mackay family, those descendants of Clarence and Katherine Mackay, will also be on hand. This is significant since the statue originally stood on the grounds of the world-famous Harbor Hill, the Roslyn area mansion that was once home to Clarence and Katherine Mackay.
The unveiling marks the culmination of years of effort by the Roslyn Landmark Society and its supporters. As the base was being completed, Perrell thanked numerous organizations, including the Gerry Charitable Trust, Hugh and Maggie
Tanchuck and their artisans at North Shore Architectural Stone, the engineer Charlie Vachris, plus County Legislator Wayne Wink, the Town of North Hempstead Town Clerk Leslie Gross, Town Supervisor Jon Kaiman and Councilwoman Anna
Kaplan for their support and also for securing funding for the operation.
A significant step in the restoration fundraising took place in June 2011, when the Landmark Society held a Belmont Stakes Race Day Party at Haute DURVO, located at The Waterfront at Roslyn on Lumber Road. That event helped the
Landmark Society reach up to $100,000 in funds, making restoration a real possibility.
The Gerry Park horse tamer statue is one of the two that once stood on the 650-acre Harbor Hill mansion. The one being unveiled this month stood for years at the private East Hills residence of Bruce and Melissa Shulman. When the
Shulmans, in 2010, sold their property, they generously donated the statue to the Town of North Hempstead with instructions that the Landmark Society supervise its renovation. Which, in fact, has happened. The other statue had a more visible lifespan. Since the late 1940s, when Harbor Hill was demolished for residential construction, that horse tamer stood at the entrance of Roslyn High School. However, time took its toll on the statue and it fell into disrepair. Fortunately, a dedicated group of Roslyn High School alumni, the Friends of the Horse Tamer, has taken upon themselves to perform a similar renovation process and place that statue back to its former home.
Following an early 1900s vacation to France, Clarence Mackay got the idea to have such horse tamers grace the grounds at Harbor Hill. The horse tamer statues on the Champs Elysees in Paris made such an impression that the family commissioned the French sculptor, Franz Plumelet to carve the two horses, which were made from Tennessee pink marble.
Landmark Society officials said that the Gerry Park horse tamer, when unveiled, will weigh five tons, and when placed on its pedestal, will stand over 20 feet tall, available to both park-goers and motorists alike as a symbol from Roslyn’s aristocratic past.