Alexander Turney Stewart’s (1803-1876) unique bronze bust has looked out over Hubbell Plaza next to the Garden City train station since the 1970s.
It has seen many sunsets as it looks west and has seen many changes in Garden City over the years. It is one of the only public outdoor sculptures Garden City has.
The bust of Garden City’s founder was commissioned in 1969 during the 100th anniversary of the founding of Garden City with the proceeds from the Stewart Centennial Ball held at the third Garden City Hotel (the present one is the fourth) with 1,000 attendees.
The artist commissioned for Stewart’s memorial was Granville W. Carter, an award-winning sculptor from Baldwin with a national following who used Stewart’s painted portrait as reference. Stewart’s bust is approximately three times life size.
Carter was born in Maine in 1920. He was president of the National Sculpture Society. His work included a sculpture of Jane Addams, founder of the NAACP and Hull House in the Hall of Fame for Great Americans on the Bronx campus of New York University; sculptures of angels for the National Cathedral; the “West Texas Pioneer Family” in Texas and many others. He died in Rockville Centre in 1992.
The pedestal on which Stewart’s memorial bust sits on is a section of column from the old razed Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan, carved in gold with the words “Alexander Turney Stewart - Founder of Garden City - 1969." Both the third Garden City Hotel and the old Penn Station were designed by McKim, Mead and White Architects.
Carter also made an historic same-size plaster casting of the bronze sculpture. It now remains at the back of the dark stage, behind a blue curtain at Cluett Hall amid leftover items from the Recreation Department. It forlornly sits in its odd location within easy reach of vandals who are destroying it by breaking off pieces of the sculpture and scratching obscenities into its surface. There is no protection for it at all.
With so little public art in Garden City, it is imperative to preserve the plaster casting of our founder. We need to install it in a more worthy interior location after repair. Suggestions would be Stewart elementary school, Stewart’s namesake, or on the first floor of Garden City Village Hall for all to view.
"The plaster bust needs to be professionally restored and preserved," said Albert Intreglia, board member of The Garden City Historical Society and chair of the Committee to Save St. Paul's. "It's deteriorating."
Come back next Tuesday at 10 a.m. for suggestion #91. Click here if you missed #93.
Category: Public sculpture/history
Note: Dress appropriately for viewing