FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, September 28, 2018
NYC PARKS REINSTALLS HISTORIC HIGHBRIDGE DOUGHBOY MONUMENT AFTER YEARS-LONG RESTORATION
Support for restoration of the Highbridge Doughboy statue has been provided by HISTORY ®, with additional support from the United States World War I Centennial Commission 100 Cities/100 Memorials Grant Program.
NYC Parks Bronx Borough Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa today joined representatives from HISTORY, the World War I Centennial Commission, elected officials, Bronx Veterans Advisory Council, the East Coast Doughboys, 11th grade students and the Vice Principal from All Hallows High School, and community members for the official reinstallation and unveiling of the historic Highbridge Doughboy monument in Highbridge Park. The monument has undergone an extensive $250,000 renovation by Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program (CMCP), with additional funding from A+E Networks’®’HISTORY and the United States World War I Centennial Commission. The restoration also includes the relocation of the monument to a new home, set within a planting bed at Jerome Avenue and 161st Street near Yankee Stadium – the “gateway” to the Highbridge community.
“For too long, the iconic Highbridge Doughboy has awaited a proper restoration, and we are proud to finally put it back on display, this time at the gateway to Highbridge,” said Commissioner Rodriguez-Rosa. “Thanks to our generous donors and our Citywide Monuments Conservation team, this monument has found a perfect new home where it can continue to honor the many Bronx soldiers who served their country in World War I.”
“The Highbridge Doughboy Monument offers an important snapshot into our nation’s past during a critical time in American history,” said Tracy Lenhart, VP of Experiential Marketing for A+E Networks. “We are incredibly proud to be partnering with NYC Parks and the WWI Centennial Commision on the monument’s restoration and relocation to its new home in The Bronx.”
“We are very pleased by this incredible restoration effort, and we are proud to have played a small role in it,” said Daniel Dayton, Executive Director, US WWI Centennial Commission. “Monuments like this remind us that the men and women who served one hundred years ago were like us, and came from our neighborhoods. Their legacy must be remembered by such memorials."
The monument consists of bronze sculpture of an infantryman, or “doughboy” figure, about seven and a half feet in height, situated on a barre granite pedestal about eight feet in height. Erected in 1923 at Ogden and University Avenue in the Bronx, it honors local servicemen from the Highbridge section of the Bronx who died in World War I. To say that the Highbridge Doughboy has been “battle-tested” is an understatement. In 1974, the honor rolls were stolen, and by 1976 the rifle had been stolen, too. Around that time the sculpture was toppled, with the helmet and arms badly damaged. Prior to the 1970s the sculpture had been moved across the street to Bridge Park, adjacent to the Washington Bridge; after being vandalized, the sculpture was moved permanently into storage for safekeeping.
The restoration of the monument, carried out by CMCP, included replicating the missing central plaque and the Doughboy’s bayonet, the removal of surface corrosion, soiling and graffiti; selective patination, and the application of a protective wax coating. In 2016, the CMCP team located a nearly identical monument in Verona, New Jersey, and used it to take molds of the missing bayonet and the decorative plaque elements. Masterwork Plaques and Bedi Makky Art Foundry, both located in Brooklyn, fabricated these missing elements in bronze using the molds taken by CMCP. Biographies of each of the 21 servicemen killed in action and listed on the plaques central honor roll, were researched and written by the East Coast Doughboys.
The monument was commissioned by the Highbridge Regular Democratic Club at a cost of $7,000 and was fabricated by the local J. M. Fiske Iron works. Max Hausle, architect of the old Bronx County Courthouse (now known as the Bronx County Building) and several parks comfort stations, including that at Keltch Park, is credited with the monument’s design.
The derivation of the term doughboy remains in question. It was first used by the British in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to describe soldiers and sailors. In the United States the nickname was coined during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848), and was widely popularized during World War I (1914-1918) to refer to infantrymen. After the war, in which Americans saw combat in 1917-18, numerous communities commissioned doughboy statues to honor the local war heroes. The Highbridge Doughboy also known as the Highbridge World War I Memorial, is one of nine such statues erected in New York City’s parks.
HISTORY®, now reaching more than 96 million homes, is the leading destination for award-winning series and specials that connect viewers with history in an informative, immersive and entertaining manner across all platforms. The network’s all-original programming slate features a roster of signature series including “Pawn Stars,” “American Pickers,” “The Curse of Oak Island,” “Alone” as well as the hit drama series “Vikings” and “Knightfall.” The HISTORY website is located at history.com. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/history and Facebook at facebook.com/history. For more press information and photography, please visit us at http://press.aenetworks.com.
About U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
The U.S. World War One Centennial Commission was established by Congress in 2013 to provide education programs, public outreach, and commemorative events regarding the American involvement in the war. The Centennial Commission was also authorized by Congress to create a new national-level memorial in the nation's capital, to honor the men and women who served. Information on the new National World War One Memorial can be found at www.ww1cc.org/memorial
About NYC Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program
A public-private partnership founded in 1997, CMCP is a conservation program dedicated to preserving the NYC Parks’ rich sculptural legacy and cultural heritage while providing college and graduate-level apprentices with professional hands on training. CMCP has won the Mayor’s Special Recognition Art Commission Award, a prestigious Lucy Moses Award from the New York Landmarks Conservancy and was the recipient of the first place award from the national Save Outdoor Sculpture/Heritage Preservation Program.