Prospect Park

Prospect Park War Memorial

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

This monument by Augustus Lukeman (1872–1935), with assistance from Daniel Chester French Associates, honors military personnel from Brooklyn who died serving during World War I. The monument was donated by William H. Todd and was dedicated on June 26, 1921. Architect Arthur D. Pickering designed the pedestal and wall, made of Milford pink granite.

The monument’s centerpiece is the figural group by Lukeman depicting an angel of death hovering beside a dying soldier dressed in a battle outfit. A carved granite altar sits before the statue, which is flanked by an exedra. The gracefully curving wall supports six bronze honor rolls cast by Roman Bronze Works, on which are listed the names of the 2,800 Brooklyn war dead.

Sculptor Lukeman was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1872, and studied art with French and the well-known American sculptor Launt Thompson, and at the famous École des Beaux Arts in Paris, France. Lukeman had a prolific career, and was affiliated with many arts organizations, including the National Sculpture Society, National Academy of Design, and the Architectural League. In New York City, his works also include the Red Hook Doughboy (1921), and the Straus Memorial (1915) on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. 

William H. Todd (1857–1932), who donated the piece, was one of the nation’s most successful shipbuilders, an avid philanthropist, and a long-time resident of Brooklyn. Todd Square, in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn where he once worked, is named for him. The memorial’s dedication ceremony was attended by a reported 35,000 people, and included 89 American Legion posts and 35 contingents of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  

Over time the monument suffered from weathering and vandalism, undergoing a major restoration in 1936. In 1980 two of the damaged honor rolls, one stolen and recovered, were placed for safekeeping in storage. In 2011, NYC Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program fully restored the monument, its masonry and bronzes, and the two salvaged honor rolls were repaired by local Brooklyn foundry Bedi-Makky and reinstalled. Additionally, the Prospect Park Alliance oversaw renovations to the surrounding brick terrace, walkway, and landscape, as part of the redesign and renovation of the lakeside and nearby skating rink.

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