Hermon A. MacNeil Park
Hermon A. Macneil Park
This park is named for Hermon A. MacNeil (1866 – 1947), an American sculptor who is known for designing the Standing Liberty quarter and sculpting the east pediment on the United States Supreme Court Building.
In 1835, Reverend William Augustus Muhlenberg purchased 134 acres of land in the area as the site of a new Episcopal seminary. Due to the financial Panic of 1837, plans for an expensive stone school building were abandoned. Muhlenberg’s sister, Mrs. Rogers, purchased the remaining stone for her own mansion, and a new frame building rose on the school’s masonry foundation. St. Paul’s College, for which College Point is named, opened in 1839 and closed about ten years later.
William F. Chisolm, a former St. Paul’s student, married Mary Rogers, the niece of Reverend Muhlenberg, in 1848. The young couple moved into the stone mansion on the grounds of the defunct school. The remaining campus buildings were used by residents of College Point, Strattonport, and Flammersburg. The school chapel provided a place for religious services, the dormitories and outbuildings served as private residences, and the school building continued to function as a school for many years.
In 1930, the City of New York acquired the mansion and its grounds for a public park—College Point Shore Front Park. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia made the Chisolm mansion his summer City Hall in 1937, conducting his municipal business in July and August on the shores of the East River. The old mansion was razed between 1939 and 1941, and a flagpole marks the site.
In 1966, Mayor John V. Lindsay signed his first local law, which renamed the park for world-renowned sculptor, Hermon Atkins MacNeil, who lived and worked in College Point. Born in Everett, Massachusetts, MacNeil graduated from Massachusetts Normal Art School and became an Instructor at Cornell University. He became a National Academician in 1906 and went on to create one of his important works—The Moqui Prayer for Rain. Macneil died on October 2, 1947 in College Point. His sculptures can be seen in four of the five boroughs in New York City, including Washington as Commander-in-Chief at the base of the Washington Square Arch in Manhattan; a cast of his Sun Vow in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; the Flushing War Memorial in Queens; and four busts in the Hall of Fame of Great Americans at Bronx Community College.
This popular northern Queens green space is located along the East River and features waterfront views, kayak and canoe launching sites, handball and basketball courts, and more.