One Door Closes and another Opens: Historic Riverdale, NY Memorial Bell Tower Entryway Refurbished with Replica Portal
By Jonathan Kuhn
Director, Art & Antiquities, NYC Parks
NYC Parks’ Citywide Monuments Conservation Program (CMCP), a public-private partnership, recently commissioned a precise replica of the severely deteriorated oak door at this landmark monument.
The new door was fashioned by master carpenter Tim Fagin, and reuses the original forged decorative ironwork. The project was supported in part by a $2,000 award from the US World War I Centennial Commission’s 100 Cities/100 Memorials Grant Program, with oversight by NYC Parks Art & Antiquities.
The Riverdale Bell Tower, a 500-ton rustic Collegiate Gothic-styled stone tower designed by Dwight James Baum (1886-1939), features nine bronze honor rolls that list the names of more than 700 local residents of Riverdale, Spuyten Duyvil and Kingsbridge who served and 29 who died in World War I.
The tower dates to 1930, resembles an Ivy League campanile and houses a historic bell, which was cast in Spain in 1762 and captured by General Winfield Scott during the Mexican War.
In 2007 CMCP restored the lower portion of the monument and conserved the honor rolls. In 2011 the bell tower was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.