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The Daily Plant : Thursday, October 18, 2007

Paying Tribute To Lafayette

Photo by Daniel Avila

Last Thursday, Commissioner Benepe joined French Consul General to New York Francois Delattre, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, State Senator Eric Adams, State Assembly Member James Brennan, Prospect Park Alliance President Tupper Thomas and children from the International School of Brooklyn to celebrate the completion of restorations to the Lafayette Memorial in Prospect Park, on the 250th anniversary of the birth of the Marquis de Lafayette.

Restoration work on the Lafayette Memorial was undertaken by the staff of the Parks Department’s Citywide Monuments Conservation Program with the assistance of the Prospect Park Alliance. It involved cleaning the entire monument including its granite, applying protective coating on the bronze, repatining the sword, and redoing the mortar joints. The flower beds near the monument were also spruced up.

This memorial was initially conserved in 1988 through Adopt-a-Monument, a joint venture of the Municipal Art Society, the Art Commission and Park. The Municipal Art Society has continued to fund annual care for the monument. Its most recent restoration is possible thanks to the generous support of French-American donors. They raised over $21,000 to preserve the Lafayette Monument, which honors the great friendship between America and France.

The Marquis de Lafayette was a French-born general who fought on behalf of American rebels during the American Revolution. Sympathetic to the American cause, he aided the colonists through the provision of experienced military leadership. The Frenchman quickly became a favorite of General George Washington, who appointed him Major General in the Continental Army during 1777.

The Lafayette Memorial, located at the 9th Street entrance to Prospect Park, was dedicated on May 10, 1917. It was designed by Henry Bacon and sculpted by Daniel Chester French. The front of the memorial reads, “This monument was erected and presented by Henry Harteau, a distinguished citizen of Brooklyn, to be an enduring tribute to the memory of one who as a friend and companion of the immortal Washington fought to establish in our country those vital principles of liberty and human brotherhood which he afterward labored to establish in his own.”


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