A Missing Statue leads to a Scrapbook Discovery
Jane M. Eliasof, Executive Director
Every once in a while, we get a research call that stumps us. Such was the case when a World War I researcher, Erik Burro, reached out to us in the summer of 2017. He’d been looking into World War I memorials around the state and discovered one that should have been in the backyard of 509 Park Street, adjacent to Applegate Farm, now owned by CY and Bill Treene.
Julian Tinkham, Applegate’s owner in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, commissioned a sculpture for his garden in memory of his son Edward who took ill shortly after the Armistace was signed on November 11, 1918. Edward was hospitalized in Ravenna, Italy, and died from spinal meningitis and pneumonia on March 30, 1919. He was cremated, and his remains were interred in Ravenna.
Tinkham asked Alexander Stirling Calder, father of the renowned sculptor credited with originating the mobile and a sculptor in his own right, to design a work of art that paid homage to the soldiers and sailors from America, England, France, and Italy who fought in the war. The sculpture portrays four soldiers (one from each country) holding aloft a large bowl inscribed with “The Covenant of the League of Nations.” According to a New York Times article describing the sculpture’s unveiling on October 3, 1920, “Water overflows this bowl and falls into a pool, the coping of which consists of eight marble stones bearing inscriptions relating to the need of a League of Nations.”
One month later, President Warren Harding was elected on a platform opposing America’s involvement, and the U.S. never joined the League of Nations. The fountain graced the gardens of 509 Park Street for several decades. It was last sighted at Mountainside Hospital in the 1950s. There the case goes cold. No one at Mountainside remembers it, nor do they have anything in their archives that relates to it. Perhaps it was moved during Mountainside’s renovations? Perhaps it was stolen? Perhaps it found another home? No one knows.
We reached out to the Treenes, who knew of the statue, but it was long gone by the time they moved to 509 Park in the 1970s. They even checked to see if the coping still exists, but unfortunately, it’s now just a circle of bricks. They did, however, share a wonderful scrapbook documenting the statue and Applegate Farm in the first decades of the 20th century. They graciously offered to let us scan the scrapbook, which is now part of our digital archives and you can see below.
If you have any information about this missing statue, please let us know!