As a tribute to the 20,000 veterans currently living in Yonkers, NY, as well as to pay homage to those who courageously lost their lives in battle, the Veteran’s Memorial at City Hall was recently commemorated after an expansion and restoration process. The project was coordinated by Stony Creek Quarry Corp. in conjunction with the Yonkers Veterans Service Agency and the Department of Engineering in Yonkers.
The memorial, which was originally designed by the renowned architectural sculptor Isidore Konti, was built in 1922 to honor the Yonkers veterans who fought and died in World War I, explained landscape architect Ralph Crosby, RLA, of Yonkers, who is a veteran of the Korean War. “He sculpted a lady [in bronze] who is basically an angel looking up to the sky, and she’s presenting all these people who died in World War I,” he said. “Then the Second World War came, and they put tablets below. They did the same after Korea and Vietnam.”
According to Crosby, the tablets with the inscriptions of veterans from the wars in Korea and Vietnam were made of bronze and fastened to two sidewall areas. “We felt that this was kind of inappropriate,” said the landscape architect. “We wanted to make something that was a little more outstanding, and something that people could see. You couldn’t really see the tablets.”
As a result, it was decided to make four stone tablets - one for Korea, two for Vietnam and one for Iraq/Afghanistan - which would be installed on either side of the statue. Before the restoration could begin, however, it first had to be determined what type of stone was used on the original memorial, so that a match could be found for the new tablets.
“I said that I remember using Stony Creek a long time ago in a building in Manhattan for the interior elevator lobbies, and that this looked like it,” said Crosby. “I’m very familiar with the product. So, we went up to Connecticut, where the Stony Creek quarry is located, and selected the stone.”
The landscape architect explained that he designed the granite tablets larger than the original bronze tablets. “They mimic the main tablet that the angel is holding,” he said. “I put a cornice on top.”
According to Crosby, the stone tablets - each measuring 4 feet, 10 inches tall x 5 feet, 6 inches wide x 8 inches thick - were given a sandblasted finish. He explained that Stony Creek granite has some flecks of black in it, but the sandblasted finish didn’t bring the black out.
“It looks very nice,” said the landscape architect. “Veterans can actually go up there and touch [the names],” he said. “They were their friends.”
In addition to the four tablets, another piece was cut at 2 feet, 4 inches x 2 feet, 9 inches x 1 ¼ inches, and laid into the center of the original monument. This piece was inscribed to replace the original brass plaque that had not included the Daughters of Yonkers, according to Peter Braun, Director of Marketing at Stony Creek Quarry Corp. of Branford, CT.
“After visiting the site and determining that Stony Creek granite was the original stone used in the monument, we determined that one 20-ton block would suffice,” said Braun. “The block was transported to the New England Stone cutting facility in Rhode Island for fabrication.”
It took eight weeks to complete the fabrication and an additional two weeks to finish the lettering, explained Braun, adding that the lettering was done by Shelley Brothers of Guilford, CT.
“The main challenge was to get the inscription correct and to make sure that the spelling was right for all those who had lost their lives in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “There were 98 names, and this had to be verified with the Veterans Administration. Another challenge was meeting the schedule and working with all the other trades involved in the renovation.”
Stony Creek Quarry worked closely with Ron Del Vecchio of Presidential Marble and Granite in Hamden, CT, to ensure a smooth installation process. “The installation took two days due to scheduling needs of the other trades involved,” said Braun. Additionally, Jimmy Alba of Alba Stone in Prospect, CT, inset the plaque.
The granite tablets were installed on granite bases that were also fabricated from Stony Creek granite. The bases were installed with mastic onto the existing walls. “Each tablet weighed 2 tons, and it would have been difficult to maneuver each piece into the exact spot without having some sort of template,” said Braun. “Each base was drilled with two holes, which would align with the existing mounting holes that had been drilled into the bottom of each tablet at the factory. So, once the bases were secured, the drilling went through the base and into the wall to accommodate the 2-inch-thick solid stainless steel rods. These rods were also glued into place in the base and into the wall, and then the tablets were lowered down onto the rods, and the base and tablets were glued together.”
In total, it took about nine months to complete the renovation and restoration of the Yonkers Veteran’s Memorial. It was commemorated on Memorial Day of this year. “The project has been a tremendous success,” said Braun. “The veterans are pleased; the town is pleased; and being a Vietnam veteran myself, I am very pleased to see a community take pride in their citizens and those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”