Posted on October 27, 2010

Peter Stuyvesant Statue to Be Restored and Returned to Bergen Avenue Post

Karina Arrue, The Jersey Journal (Jersey City), October 18, 2010


After several months of uncertainty, officials have decided that the century-old Peter Stuyvesant statue will be returned to its original location on Bergen Avenue in front of School No. 11 in Jersey City.

Dozens of people proudly wearing “Bring Him Home” stickers assembled in front of the school this morning to hear the official announcement.


The [Jersey City] Board of Education mistakenly believed the statue belonged to the school district, said Maryann Kelleher, director of Jersey City’s Division of Cultural Affairs. She called it an honest mistake the city was “happy to correct.”

City historian Bob Leach unearthed an Oct. 18, 1913 program of the official unveiling ceremony of the statue, created by famed American sculptor John Massey Rhind, which proves the statue belongs to the city.


The city also has plans to recreate the original foundation with original inscriptions, Kelleher said.

The restoration and reinstallation project will cost an estimated $40,000. Stuyvesant should be back in Bergen Square by May 2011.


This is about Peter Stuyvesant and Jersey City–specifically when the city was born. Stuyvesant, governor of what would eventually become New York, was himself a political figure and now finds himself in the middle of a modern debate. Should he give way to more recent historic figures who resonate more with the present population?


Yesterday morning, without any warning, workmen removed the bronze Stuyvesant statue from its place in front of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School (School 11), put it on the back of a truck and drove off. The stone-etched words on the statue were cut out and the afternoon was spent jackhammering the base.

The surprise attack took local historians and conservancy people off guard, and they spent the afternoon calling each other.

Unless a ransom note arrives, the consensus was that the order to remove the likeness of the great director-general of the New Netherlands colonies of the Dutch West Indies Company came from city Superintendent of Schools Charles T. Epps. Epps could not be reached for comment.

Supposedly, the plan is for a statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to replace Stuyvesant in front of School 11, according to local merchants and history buffs. {snip}


There is some irony to all this.

In a New Jersey City University Web site, it is claimed the city has “the oldest continuous educational institution in the United States” dating back to the Dutch colony in the 1600s, when Bergen’s school house was overseen by elders of the Dutch Reformed Church. Public education was free and funded by–yup, property taxes. You would think the Board of Education would be glad to have Peter’s statue in place.