– The Town of North Hempstead, in partnership with the Roslyn Landmark Society, marked the historic return of the Mackay Horse Statue to the Village of Roslyn where it first appeared 93 years ago at the Harbor Hill mansion, the Gold Coast era estate of Clarence and Katherine Duer Mackay.
Elected officials, community leaders, and residents joined together for the free event dubbed StatueFEST at the Town of North Hempstead’s Gerry Park.
The “horse tamer” statue is one of the two that once stood on the 648-acre Harbor Hill mansion. When Harbor Hill was demolished in 1947 to make way for new homes, the statue remained in its original position for nearly a century, in what eventually became the backyard of the East Hills residence of Bruce and Melissa Shulman. When the Shulmans sold their property in 2010, they generously donated the statue to the Town of North Hempstead. The Roslyn Landmark Society pledged to supervise its renovation.
Roslyn Landmark Society Executive Director, Franklin Hill Perrell served as the Master of Ceremonies for the event. He said, "This work of art is the most important statue installation ever on Long Island in terms of its scope and cultural significance."
The “horse-tamer” statue underwent a meticulous three-year restoration under the aegis of the Society and has been returned to its original grandeur. While maintaining the physical integrity of the original statue, the restoration includes a newly carved groomsmen’s head, creation of missing pieces and stabilization of the entire statue.
The great-grandson of Clarence and Katherine Duer Mackay, Michael Mackay, was on hand for the event. He said, “This statue is 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.” Town Clerk Leslie Gross thanked the Shulman family for their generous donation as well as Howard Kroplick and Ian Zwerdling. She said, “As Town Clerk, vested with the responsibility of preserving and sharing our Town’s history, I know that publicly-owned historic documents and artifacts help anchor and sustain communities, attract investment, and provide a destination for visitors.”
Councilwoman Anna Kaplan who represents the area where the Mackay Horse was unveiled today, played an integral role in the completion of this project. She said, “I have always been a proponent of preserving history, which we do so well in the Town of North Hempstead. By placing this historic statue in such a visible part of our Town, the Mackay Horse will become a permanent part of the culture of our great Town.”
“The Mackay Horse is an example of what art, culture and history is all about,” said Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink, who helped provide over $16,000 in county funding to restore the Mackay Horse. “Having such an awe-inspiring sculpture sitting right in the heart of the Town is destined to intrigue generations to come to learn about the storied past of the Mackay Horse.”
The historical significance dates back to the early 1900’s, when the mythic statue proudly stood in Harbor Hills’ west garden. The Mackay statue was modeled after sculptures commissioned in 1739 by Louis XV for the France royal palace, Chateau de Marly. The statues were moved to the Champs-Elysees and after a restoration and are now on display at the Louvre in Paris.
The placing of the statue in Roslyn’s Gerry Park, in the shadow of Harbor Hill, is more than fitting. After all, Roger and Peggy Gerry, for who the park is named, founded the Roslyn Landmark Society in 1962.
Town Historian Howard Kroplick who helped identify the ideal location of Gerry Park for the statue, and played a central role in the restoration process, 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.”
Other elected officials in attendance included Nassau County Legislators Judi Bosworth and Delia Deriggi-Whitton and New York State Assemblyman Chuck Lavine.
Town Historian Howard Kroplick unveils the Mackay Horse during the StatueFEST celebration. Elected officials, community leaders, members of the Mackay family and residents welcomed the statue to its new home in Gerry Park.
New York State Assemblyman Charles D. Lavine, North Hempstead Receiver of Taxes Charles Berman, Nassau County Legislator Wayne Wink, North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, Town Historian & Trustee of Roslyn Landmark Society Howard Kroplick, Gwendolyn Jones (member of the Mackay family), Nassau County Legislator Judi Bosworth, Roslyn Landmark Society Trustee Jay Corn, Kristin Jones (member of the Mackay family), Nicolas Jones (member of the Mackay family), Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, Melinda Mackay (member of the Mackay family), North Shore Monuments Owners Hugh Tanchuck and Maggie Tanchuck , Michael Mackay (member of the Mackay family), Mary Rose Mackay (member of the Mackay family) and Executive Director of the Roslyn Landmark Society Franklin Hill Perrell.