Nassau County awards grant to complete Gerry Pond statue installation

Adedamola Agboola

Nassau County has awarded the Town North Hempstead a $71,000 grant to fund the final installation of the Mackay Horse Statue at Gerry Pond Park in the Village of Roslyn.

“Preserving our history is a key component of what makes the Town of North Hempstead such a special place to live,” town Supervisor Judi Bosworth said in a statement.

The grant, which was obtained with the assistance of Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, will enable the town to provide historical markers, benefactor plaques, construct a plaza and a seating area near the statue. 

“I was happy to be able to furnish the finishing touches for this historic work of art,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “The plaza, seating and lighting will allow people to really appreciate the beauty of the sculpture.”

A snow fence will also be constructed during the winter season and permanent lighting all-year round.

Bosworth thanked Town Historian Howard Kroplick who she said not only play a key role in identifying a location in Gerry Park for the statue but also the restoration process. 

Kroplick said in 2012 there were concerns about whether the ground near the Roslyn Duck Pond intended as the statue’s permanent home could bear the statue’s weight.

We don’t want the leaning horse of Roslyn,” he said in an interview with Blank Slate Media in 2012. 

Those concerned were later answered and in 2013, the town celebrated the return of the Mackay Horse Statue to Roslyn where it first appeared in 1923 at the Harbor Hill mansion.

“The statue is one of the two that once stood on the Harbor Hill mansion, with the other now displayed at Roslyn High School.

Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, whose 4th district represents the area where the Mackay Horse stands, said the horse has become a part of the fabric and culture of the town. 

“I look forward to the newest additions provided by this grant that are poised to make Gerry Pond Park a true destination for members of our community,” she said.

The statue underwent a three-year restoration that included a newly carved groomsmen’s head, creation of missing pieces and stabilization of the entire statue leading up to its installation in Gerry Pond Park in 2013.

The statue was one of two that stood in the west garden of Clarence and Katherine Mackay’s 648-acre Gold Coast-era Harbor Hill estate, and remained for years after the property’s dismantling in 1947 in the backyard of East Hills residents Bruce and Melissa Shulman’s home.

When the Shulmans sold their house in 2010, they donated the statue to the Town of North Hempstead. 

A committee formed by the Roslyn Landmark Society that included Perrell, landmark society President Craig Westergard, former President Robert Sargent, John Santos, Jay Corn, Peter Crifo and Ian Zwerdling supervised the statue’s restoration and relocation at the town’s direction.

The statues, made from Tennessee pink marble and sculpted by Franz Plumelet, were modeled after sculptures commissioned in 1739 by French kings Louis XIV and XV for the Chateau de Marly royal palace. 

Over time, the original statues moved to the Champs-Elysses, underwent restoration and are currently displayed at the Louvre in Paris.

Reproductions of the French statues, commonly referred to as the Marly Horses or the Horse Tamers, have appeared in films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” “The Philadelphia Story” and “An American in Paris.”

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