Valentine Varian House
This granite statue of a Union soldier during the Civil War is by the Italian-born sculptor John Grignola (1861–1912). The statue was originally commissioned by a Morrisania veterans group in the 1890s as a marker for Woodlawn Cemetery. However, it was damaged before delivery, and rejected.
It was then purchased by John B. Lazzari, who ran a local tombstone quarry and monuments yard, and exhibited it on his property on the west bank of the Bronx River, just south of Gun Hill Road. Later, as local workers headed for a tapestry factory on the east embankment of the river, they damaged an adjacent footbridge held fast by a granite pier. Lazzari removed the bridge, and placed the statue on the granite pier in the middle of the river.
Decades later, the statue became unstable on its footing, and in 1964 it toppled into the river. The Parks Department rescued the sculpture and salvaged it. On August 21, 1970 the Parks monuments crew installed the statue on a new base at its present location on the grounds of historic Valentine-Varian House. The house itself had been moved across the street in 1965 to its current site next to the Williamsbridge Oval at Bainbridge Avenue and East 208th Street.
The Bronx River Soldier is a prototypical image of a Civil War soldier in military dress, with musket in hand, an image first defined by sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward (1830–1910) in his bronze Seventh Regiment Soldier, cast in 1869 and dedicated in Central Park in 1874. Today the secured Bronx River Soldier stands sentry beside this historic colonial house, built in 1758, and which now serves as the museum of the Bronx County Historical Society.
Bronx River Soldier Details
- Sculptor: John Grignola
- Description: Standing figure (life size) on plinth on pedestal
- Materials: Figure--granite; Original pedestal--concrete; Replacement plinth and pedestal--granite
- Cast: ca. 1890
- Dedicated: August 21, 1970
- Donor: John B. Lazzarri
- Inscription: 1) Original pedestal, proper left: 1898 /
2) Replacement pedestal, front: BRONX / RIVER / SOLDIER /