An Oasis in downtown White Plains, NY

My wife was shopping in White Plains, NY and while waiting I took the dog for a short walk. I was surprised to across this small oasis in the middle of downtown White Plains, NY. It’s a complex of buildings related to the St. John the Evangelist Church.

According to The Eastern State Journal. White Plains, Saturday June 11, 1892:

The Reynal Memorial Church of St. John the Evangelist was built and with the grounds, church furniture and vestments complete, were given to the parish by Mrs. Nathalia F. Reynal.

Mrs. Reynal is a daughter of the late Nathaniel D. Higgins, the successful and wealthy carpet manufacturer from whom she inherited a large property. She erects this elegant and costly church “to the glory of God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in loving memory of her father and son”. The country residence and landed estate of her father was in this town, about two miles from the church, and it has been kept intact and as a summer home for the Reynal family. Mrs. Reynal’s town house is 263 Madison avenue, New York city. This church is to be for all time a monument to her christian charity and an evidence of her profound regard for the spiritual welfare of her fellow mortals.

The church edifice is 163 feet 10 inches deep by sixty seven feet in width, with a tower twenty-to feet square and seventy five feet high. The facade of the church is surmounted with a stone cross. The style of architecture is early perpendicular English gothic and is built of quarry-dressed blue, Vermont marble. The nave of the church is 146×67 feet and sixty-seven feet high, and will accommodate about 1,000. The ceiling is an open timbered trussed roof supported by ten columns eighteen inches in diameter. The three altars are of Caen marble. Over the main altar is a picture representing the vision of St. John the Evangelist in memory of whom the church is named. There are fourteen symbolical windows of stained glass in the isles (sic) and sixteen in the clear story representing twenty eight of the prominent saints in the church calendar. These windows were made in London by Hardman and Co. Two reredos and the screens enclosing the boy’s sacristy will be filled with leaded cathedral glass. The confessionals and pews are made of oak.

The interior of the church in all its appointments displays the highest order of architectural design and finish and the effect is grand and imposing.

The organ and choir loft are in a gallery over the entrance, behind which is an immense nave window of beautiful stained glass. The organ is a grand instrument of splendid tone and great power. The ensemble of the organ and nave window is strikingly beautiful. It was made by Harrison of New Jersey and cost $5,000.

The body of the church is lighted with 140 electric lights; around the altar are 110 more, and in the first four arches 120 – a total of 370 electric lights. The church is also supplied with thirteen pendent chandeliers, four uprights, two wall lamps and seven other lamps under the choir gallery, in all over 100 gas jets, to be used should the electric lights fail at any time.

The every day chapel in the rear of the church is fifty feet by seventeen and will seat eighty persons. It is an elegant room with a vestibule at each . In this are the memorial windows from the old church.

The architect of this magnificent church in Mr. Thomas H. Poole, of 246 Fifth Avenue, New York and the edifice in its design and finish is a credit to he recognized ability and correct taste. The builder is Mr. James D. Murphy of 200 Broadway, New York city.

The cost of the building, the furniture and paraphanalia (sic) was about $125,000. As a work of art it is an honer (sic) to the architect, to the Rev. William A. Dunphy of blessed memory in whose mind was born the thought of its creation, and the christian woman whose consideration and kindness provided with the cheerfulness the large means to make real so worth a memorial and so substantial a monument of sacred art. The effect of such a temple of art, as well as a temple of the living, ever-present but invisible God, should certainly be to elevate the moral tone, to cultivate the better nature and enoble and make better, wiser and happier every citizen of White Plains.

Sounds very impressive. Unfortunately, none of the pictures in this post actually show the church (you can see a part of it in the background in the next post: A Garden in White Plains). I was so taken by this quadrangle that I neglected to take a picture of the church itself. The building shown is actually the former school, which closed in 2006. The Alumni still have Facebook pages.

There’s also a book on the church: The Story of Saint John the Evangelist Church – White Plains, New York

Statue in front of the school.

Detail of statue base.

Stations of the cross.

Taken with an iphone 5s.

Putnam County Veterans Memorial Park – Gold Star Mother Statue

According to

Gold Star Mothers — the moms of soldiers killed in war — have been around as an organization since 1918. Gold Star Mother memorials — stones with attached plaques — have been around since the 1930s.

Vietnam vet Fred Waterman felt that wasn’t enough. He had one of his platoon buddies, Andrew Chernak, design a statue, and in 2006 it was unveiled. The life-size bronze shows a World War II mother in shock, a single tear on her cheek. One hand braces herself against an unsteady flower stand, the little flower pot overturned. The other hand clutches a crumpled telegram.

The statue proved to be so popular that a duplicate was placed in Manchester, New Hampshire, and Chernak hopes to erect four more copies in the Midwest, Southwest, West Coast, and Washington, DC.

According to the sculptor’s website:

This statue is the first to depict a Gold Star Mother. It captures the moment after she receives the dreaded Western Union telegram informing her of the loss of her son while in service to our country.

The statue portrays a mother during World War II. She steadies herself on a plantstand bearing a photograh of her son and a toppled plant, symbolizing her world falling around her. Her face streaming with tears, bears a look of grief and shock. In her far off gaze, she is recalling her precious son’s life and all that it held, now forever gone from her.

This statue is part of an effort to educate the American public about a group of exemplary women who have turned their grief into a positive force of service for our nations Veterans.

Geneva – Old Town, Statue in La Treille

Even though it was some distance I’d decided to walk home and leaving the Old Town I passed through “La Treille” (the Arbor), a pleasant, leafy tree covered “promenade” (i.e. walking area) overlooking the Parc des Bastions. Walking through I came across this statue of Charles Pictet de Rochemont. describes him as follows:

Charles Pictet de Rochemont, (born Sept. 21, 1755, Geneva, Switz.—died Dec. 28, 1824, Lancy), statesman and diplomat who prepared the declaration of Switzerland’s permanent neutrality ratified by the great powers in 1815.

After serving in the French army, Pictet settled in Geneva in 1789 and reorganized the militia. He was arrested during the Reign of Terror (1794) in Geneva following the French Revolution and subsequently was imprisoned. With the reestablishment of the Republic of Geneva after the retreat of Napoleon’s armies (1813), he resumed political activity, taking part in the provisional government created in December 1813.

In January 1814 Pictet argued on behalf of Geneva’s independence and union with the Swiss Confederation before the allied sovereigns at Basel and later obtained recognition of his canton’s independence in the Treaty of Paris (May 1814). In October 1814 he was delegated to the Congress of Vienna, where he helped secure Geneva’s attachment to the reconstructed Swiss Confederation; and at the Paris peace conference (August–November 1815) that followed Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, he served as representative of the whole confederation. He personally redrafted the act that was accepted as the basis of permanent Swiss neutrality by the powers on March 20, 1815. His last diplomatic mission—to Turin (January–March 1816)—secured a rectification of the Swiss-Sardinian frontier (Treaty of Turin, March 1816).

Wikipedia provides additional information.

In the background you can just make out a bench. But this is not just any bench. It’s arguably the longest wooden bench in the world. According to Atlas Obscura:

Behind Geneva’s city hall is La Treille Park, a lovely and sunny square, whose perimeter is lined by (debatably) the longest wooden bench in the world. Built in 1767, the bench is 413 feet long, and made of 180 wooden boards.

The title for the world’s longest bench is evidently a prize highly sought. Many countries claim to have the longest bench of some sort – Spain says its Gaudi-inspired art-piece bench in Barcelona is the longest, Russia claimed to have had the longest painted bench, before it was broken into 100 different sections and spread throughout Moscow, and France claims to have the longest concrete bench which overlooks the sea in the city of Marseille.

No matter where the title truly lies, there is no question that this Swiss bench is the perfect spot to relax and take in the view of the Salève and Jura mountains under the shade of chestnut trees. It’s said that the chestnut’s first bloom announces the arrival of spring in Geneva.

Taken with a Sony RX-100 M3

Geneva – Old Town, Jeremie Statue

This statue of the Old Testament prophet, Jeremiah stands directly across from the St. Pierre Cathedral. It’s the creation of Auguste de Niederhäusern, better known as Rodo. According to Wikipedia:

Auguste de Niederhäusern, better known as Rodo (2 April 1863 – 21 May 1913) was a sculptor and medalist active in Switzerland and France.

Rodo was born in Vevey, and in 1866 moved with his family to Geneva. He attended the École des Arts industriels (1881) and the École des Beaux-Arts (1882) under the direction of Barthélemy Menn, then studied at the Académie Julian with Henri Chapu (1886) and again at the École des Beaux-Arts under Alexandre Falguière. For six years he worked in Auguste Rodin’s studio.

In 1895 he received a commission for the Paul Verlaine monument in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which was finally inaugurated in 1911. He died in 1913 during a visit to Munich.

On the occasion of an exhibition of his works in 2001 published a short article entitled: Geneva celebrates the “Hodler of sculpture”, which provides additional information.