A Relic from the Past
A noble, grand relic:
The object I chose to focus on is a newspaper article of a surviving relic of the Mackay’s Harbor Hill. The historic item that is the center of attention in the article is one of two statues of horses that once were in the garden of Harbor Hill. This statue was in front of the local Roslyn high school until it was taken down to be refurbished while its counterpart remains on display at the Garry Pond Park in Roslyn.
When I first saw this statue, I got this overwhelming sense of nostalgia and familiarity. What I saw in the statue was the same trait that reminds me of home. This trait or rather in this case, feature is having any physical object that can be shared with others, looked upon by others to relay their original meaning, or admired by others. I feel that this trait is a key factor not just for myself when identifying objects that remind me of home but it could be the basis for everyone to find objects that evokes home.
The main reason I chose to observe this antique statue was because it seemed interesting to read and learn about the importance of the statute. It seems that the statue is not only a memory from the 1930’s but it retained its importance over the next eighty years. One of the constraints that I would have when researching is that I am looking at the statue with an outsider’s perspective as opposed to a residence view who has a greater chance of knowing the entire history of the statute and the history of both the Mackay family, whom were the owners of the statue and Harbor Hills, and Harbor Hill.
Proud moment through history:
The statue was originally created between 1910-1920 for the Harbor Hill mansion. After the house was demolished, the two identical statues were separated from each other where one of them managed to be placed within a resident’s backyard which was later relocated into the Gerry Pond Park in Roslyn around 2013. The other statue was not so lucky since construction workers would have been destroyed had it not been for George Gach, a local sculptor, not noticed it and recognized value which he recommended be put in front of the local High School for public display. The two statues were modeled after the “Marley horse statues” under King Louis XIV.
In 2012, when the statue in front of the high school was taken down due to its fragile appearance. In response of this, alums residing in local areas or away created a fundraiser called “Friends of the Horse Tamer” with the campaign message of “One horse tamer done, One to go!” The result was $126,000 dollars raised for the restoration of statue but it was not enough. There is hope that the lacking $25,000 will eventually be raised and the horse statue will be restored.
An insight to the glorious statue:
When going through all the research of Harbor Hill the object that grabbed my attention was this horse statue. Marble, enormous, and lifelike are the first words that came to my mind when I saw this statue. When I saw it I thought it was a remarkable not as a piece of art but of how it stood out to me. The realistic nature of the horse is embedded by the process which the statue was made. The statue was specifically carved to resemble not just a horse, but the saddle exactly and trainer or rider accompanying it. The horse statue became worn and fragile over the years and is in dire need of repair. Some can say that it has started to lose its value and like any object held dear it is important to restore it because you want to keep this memory and spirit of Harbor Hills alive.
A reminder of the past
One of the aspects of this object is that it seems to be a place holder in today’s time. By that, I mean the statue holds historical significance of the past generations of the harbor hills residence in the early nineteenth century. Today, it serves as a way to delve into the past for the present Roslyn community.
Another aspect of the horse statue is that it can serve as a model of the values for home in early Long Island lifestyles. A common tradition of most long island homes is that some of them were built with sophisticated aspects that reflected their lifestyles and celebrated their achievements, success, and lifestyles. The value of home for them was living in absolute luxury while at the same time showed off to others.
The early 1900’s
In the past, a common trait of the time was to have elaborate decorations or luxury items in homes as a way to celebrate their status and success. In this case, the object used in the Mackay Harbor Hill manor was two replicas of the original “Marley” horse statue in their garden.
However, while others focus on decorations and living in luxuries there are other examples that have occurred in this period of time. This era also was known as the “Roaring 20’s” during the 1920’s where the traditional decoration trend shifted. The new trend that took place was more outings to theaters and purchasing new cars. In this time, the idea of reminders of homes shifted from the decorations into relaxation of watching movies and driving to places.
The Past and Present:
When looking at the past the trend naturally was to show off their lifestyles through decorations and furniture. In some cases, that tradition is still apparent but not the same as it was for the Mackay’s generation in Harbor Hill. For instance, in present day most homes decorate elaborately, like in the past during special holidays such as Christmas and Easter. The amount of décor that is used is to celebrate but for different reasons. The main reason for the past is daily and constantly to brag their success while now it is seen to show who has the most spirit or enthusiasm. Obviously through the comparison there is a significant change in how décor changed and the reasons why it is used.
Another example of this change is the ordinary, everyday decorations. In the past, the Harbor Hill’s had their statues and today people have miniature lamps and garden gnomes. Clearly there is a similarity of having some sort of decoration around homes but it differs between then, the Harbor Hill, and present day. The conclusion is that as each day, year, and generation passes the more smaller and greater number of objects appear to replace it.
A new contrast in how we view these objects now compared to the past. The statues that were in the Mackay’s Harbor Hill was made to be secluded primarily for private viewing in important place such as gardens. What I mean by this is that to see this statue it was only available for anyone on the residence or available to see because of invitation to enter the garden to see the statues. Now, relics from the past are placed on display in public areas such as museums and parks while the replacements of these decorations are put into place such as front yards where anyone can view them at any time without needing permission to see.
When talking about the distant past and the present the common agreement is that the values and idea of home remained the same regardless of the changes that can take place for example changes in technology. However, even though there is a change in the methods people use to decorate it does not mean that we forget the previous objects but reuse or repurpose them. By that, taking the horse statue for example everyone in Roslyn knows and values the statue as a part of their home. In this example, one-hundred years ago the statue was to celebrate the Mackay’s Harbor Hill lifestyle but now it represents an antique of the past that is held in a higher standard that shows not only the life style but also history and works of art.
A challenge for you:
As I research this topic and you read about it, I inquire that you find an object anything from a physical object or thought, big or small, from the present or the past that reminds you of home. To make things fair I will share first. For myself my object is cars or my car in general. The reason why cars signal home is that when I look back at my eighteen years I always was in a car whether it was my parents driving or now myself diving going to school, going to sports events, going to my friends, and back home. So, it makes sense to me that cars have been a reliance that I have used that substitutes my home constantly. So now I ask you what object reminds you of home and why does it do so?
A Relic from the Past