Monday, March 28, 2011


At some point over the weekend I was walking along Bellevue and passed that big, thoughtful-looking man who sits in his chair at the corner of Narragansett, at the traffic light, outside what is now Preservation Society Headquarters. And it occurred to me — as I stood there waiting for the "walk" signal — that I had no idea who he was. Is.

That happens a lot, actually; there are so many all-too-familiar statues and structures (and people!) around & about town whose history is a mystery. To me, anyway.

The big man's identity was easy enough to determine, as a name appears handsomely/prominently below his big boot. Except that's not who he is. I should have known better. I should have looked harder. I should have thought harder about the two initials that appear after the name — J.Q.A. Ward, SC — indicating John Quincy Adams Ward was the sculptor, not the subject. A significant sculptor, as I learned (thanks to Wikipedia) after I got home from my walk. That's probably why his is the name set in stone so visibly at such a visible corner, i.e., the artist is a real somebody ...

So the question remains: Who is the man??

I headed out to the intersection again this morning for an answer. It had to be there, right?? But only after cutting through the bushes onto the Preservation Society's front lawn (which made me feel like a bit of a trespasser) could I find it. There on a tiny plaque, in the back, at the base of the big man's chair, below the bronze fringe, is the name August Belmont. He was/is a very big deal in his own right, in his own day, as I learned (thanks to Wikipedia again) after I got home with statue-on-the-brain for the second time in as many days.

And along the way, I passed another big man I've passed more times than I can count: Commodore Matthew Perry, standing tall in Touro Park. His sculptor, as evidenced by the name below his sword, was .... guess who??