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Winfield War Memorial

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Crafted by Italian-American sculptor James S. J. Novelli (1885–1940), this striking bronze victory figure is known both as the Winfield War Memorial and Victorious America, and was dedicated in 1926.

Winfield was once the name given to this area in northwestern Queens, bounded by Queens Boulevard to the north, the New York Connecting Rail Road to the east, Mount Zion Cemetery and Maurice Avenue to the south, and New Calvary Cemetery to the west. The village, later considered part of Woodside, was developed in 1854 and named after General Winfield Scott (1786–1866), who distinguished himself in the Mexican War and was general-in-chief of the army at the outbreak of the Civil War (1861-1865).

The monument was a gift of the people of Winfield, and commissioned at a cost of $5,000 under the auspices of the Winfield Honor Roll Association. It honors the seven local men who gave their lives in service during World War I (1914-1918). The monument’s seven-foot-tall allegorical victory figure bears a sword in her right hand and a shield in her left, and was said by the original sponsors to be a “symbol of protection, good government and honor.” A general dedication and the names of the servicemen are inscribed on the pedestal of Stony Creek granite. When the monument was created it first stood in a street median on Queens Boulevard at Fisk Avenue, and was later moved to its current location, precipitated by the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, and the reconfiguration of local streets.

The statue was created by Italian-American sculptor James S. J. Novelli. Born in Sulmona, a province of Aquila, Italy, in 1885, his family settled in New York when he was five years old. At an early age he impressed his teachers at P.S. 23 with his natural artistic skill. Novelli returned to Italy in 1903 to study, and while a student, earned an honorable mention for the artwork he submitted to the International Exposition in Paris, France in 1906. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Rome in 1908.

Returning to New York, where he resided at West 23rd Street in Manhattan, Novelli was much in demand as a sculptor of funereal and public monuments. Besides this monument, he also created the Clason Point War Memorial (1928) in the Bronx, the Saratoga Park War Memorial (1921; stolen and destroyed in 2000) in Brooklyn, and bronze mausoleum doors in Calvary Cemetery (1923) for which he won the Henry O. Avery Prize for sculpture. In the 1930s, Novelli worked on the Parks monuments conservation crew. However, during the Great Depression, his artistic career languished. After growing increasingly despondent, Novelli took his own life in 1940.

Due to its location at 65th Place and Laurel Hill Boulevard adjacent to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Winfield Memorial has suffered various indignities over the years. In 1958, completion of the nearby section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bisected the community, and orphaned the monument to this park triangle located perilously close to an off-ramp. In 1969 and 1989 the statue was knocked from its perch by vehicles, and on the second occasion the head was severed from the body and reattached. The monument suffered from weathering, frequent attacks of graffiti, and other assaults by vandals; it received an in-house reconditioning in the 1990s by Parks crews.

In 1999 a City Capital contract restored the monument, replaced its damaged granite base with a replica, and the surrounding plaza was upgraded in an attempt to beautify its setting and better protect the sculpture. Unfortunately, in December 2001 the sculpture was again injured in a horrific car accident that dragged the sculpture several hundred feet into the expressway. In 2010-11 Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program repaired the damages and reinstalled the artwork at its rightful place.

Winfield War Memorial Details

Location:
65th Place and Laurel Hill Boulevard
Sculptor:
James S. J. Novelli
Description:
Standing female figure (over life-size) on pedestal
Materials:
Bronze, Stony Creek granite
Dimensions:
Figure H: 7'4" W: 2'1" D: 2'1"; Pedestal H: 4' W: 3'5" D: 3'5"
Cast:
1926
Dedicated:
1926
Foundry:
American Art Foundry
Inscription:
Shield
DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO MADE THE SUPREME SACRIFICE AND TO ALL OTHERS FROM WINFIELD WHO ENTERED THE SERVICE OF OUR COUNTRY IN THE WORLD WAR NEW YORK CITY AD MCMXXVI .

Pedestal
EDWARD J. LANGE
HENRY C. LOCHMAN
OTTO MAREK
JAMES V. PERGOLA
FREDERICK JACKSON
RANDOLPH JARDINE
AUSTIN GREER

Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011

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