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Winfield Memorial & Riverside Park

Foundations of America

QU201 Prof. Scott Leone

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Home Stony Creek Granite Sites Monuments & Parks Winfield Memorial & Riverside Park

Winfield Memorial & Riverside Park

This monument dedicated the seven local men who fought in the service during World War I of 1914-1918.  Since 1926, Winfield Plaza has provided New Yorkers to a sculpture made out of bronze and the pedestal out of Stony Creek Granite, called the Winfield War Memorial and Victorious America.   

Winfield was once the name given to this area in Northwestern Queens, bounded by Queens Boulevard to the north, the New York Connecting Rail Road to the east, Mount Zion Cemetery and Maurice Avenue to the south, and New Calvary Cemetery to the west. The adjacent town of Woodside was called so because the area sat beside what was then the Winfield Woods - a.k.a. "Suicide's Paradise" - where, legend has it, despondent early colonists went to commit suicide.The village, later considered part of Woodside, was developed in 1854 and named after General Winfield Scott (1786–1866), who distinguished himself in the Mexican War (1846-1848) and was general-in-chief of the army at the outbreak of the Civil War (1861-1865).

Located in Laurel Hill Boulevard & 65th Street, Woodside, New York is a symbolic figure of a woman in a long dress and a laurel wreath on her head, just like the statue of liberty, “representing America stands with a shield held in her proper left hand and a sword in her proper right hand…with medieval armour details on the chest” (nycgovparks). It was created by sculptor James S. J. Novelli, an Italian-American sculptor known for his dedication to “keeping alive the memory of our country’s heroes and fallen soldiers…” (murphy). 

The statue was by Italian-American sculptor James S. J. Novelli. Born in Sulmona, a province of Aquila, Italy, in 1885, his family settled in New York when he was five years old. At an early age he impressed his teachers at P.S. 23 with his natural artistic skill. Novelli returned to Italy in 1903 to study, and while a student, earned an honorable mention for the artwork he submitted to the International Exposition in Paris, France in 1906. He graduated from the Royal Academy of Rome in 1908.

 Returning to New York, where he resided at West 23rd Street in Manhattan, Novelli was a popular sculptor for funeral and war monuments.  Besides the Winfield War Memorial sculpture he had also built the Clason Point War Memorial (1928) in the Bronx, a seven-foot high bronze sculptural relief of a female figure and set within an 11-foot tall, gray granite stele. The Saratoga Park War Memorial (1921; stolen and destroyed in 2000) in Brooklyn. Which was installed on a 9’6”-high stele, and two flanking stones of Milford pink granite bore bronze honor rolls inscribed with the names of the dead. The bronze mausoleum doors in Calvary Cemetery (1923) for which he won the Henry O. Avery Prize for sculpture. In the 1930s, Novelli worked on the Parks monuments conservation crew. However, during the Great Depression, his artistic career languished. After growing increasingly despondent, Novelli took his own life in 1940.

The monument was a gift of the people of Winfield, and commissioned at a cost of $5,000 under the sponsorship of the Winfield Honor Roll Association.  Current Owner: Administered by City of New York, Department of Parks and Recreation, The Arsenal - Central Park, New York, New York 10021

Due to its location at 65th Place and Laurel Hill Boulevard adjacent to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the Winfield Memorial had suffered various indignities over the years. In 1958, completion of the nearby section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway bisected the community, and orphaned the park triangle and monument to a location perilously close to an adjacent to an off-ramp. In 1969 and 1989 the statue was knocked from its perch by vehicles, and on the second occasion the head was severed from the body and reattached. The monument suffered from weathering, frequent attacks of graffiti, and other assaults by vandals; it received an in-house reconditioning in the 1990s by Parks crews.

In 1999, through a City capital contract, the sculpture was cleaned, repaired, repainted, and recoated. A replica of the Stony Creek Granite pedestal replaced the one that had suffered over the years, and the new landscape design was meant to beautify the site and better protect the statue. Although these provisions were made, the site and the sculpture suffered extensive damage when they were struck by a car moving at high speed in December of 2001. The sculpture remains in storage, and awaits funding for restoration. This picture represents the empty statue that once stood in the parks.

To contact for a present day status of the statue:

By Phone

Please visit 311 Online or dial 311 for all Parks & Recreation information;
outside of NYC, call (212) NEW–YORK.

By Mail

You may also write to the Parks Department at:
The Arsenal
Central Park
830 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10065

“Novelli a Forgotten Sculptor" , By Josephine Murphy






Last Updated on Wednesday, 02 November 2011 09:19  


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