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Friedrich Schiller Park Statue
To Get Recognition -- and Lights

Reprinted with permission of ThisWeek Community News


ThisWeek Community News Wednesday August 22, 2012 8:39 AM

Plans by Friends of Schiller Park [in Columbus, Ohio] call for lighting and a new plaque at the Friedrich Schiller statue in the park.

For more than 100 years it stood as a testament to the resiliency of the early immigrants of what would become German Village.

Yet, the Schiller statue had fallen victim to benign neglect.

No aesthetic accouterments had celebrated its inspiration -- Friedrich Schiller, a poet, playwright, philosopher and historian.

It was a silhouette in the night, surrounded by a barren patch of grass in Schiller Park.

There was no sign to tell the history of who he was, why he was chosen or who paid to put him there.

Things are much different today.

As part of the Columbus bicentennial celebration, Friends of Schiller Park will have a rededication of sorts for the statue.

At 7:15 p.m. Sept. 8, there will be a special lighting ceremony at the statue, along with a performance by the Harmony Project.

At the moment of the lighting, the Columbus Maennerchor will sing Ode to Joy -- the lyrics of which were penned by Schiller -- in German.

A full slate of activities is also planned for the following day at Schiller.

Katharine Moore, chairwoman of Friends of Schiller Park, said the lights will be positioned on either side of the promenade of Huntington Garden and will illuminate the monument.

Poles and fixtures will be installed next week and directional boring will be done to run the power lines underground without damaging tree roots.

The lighting company already tested different sets of bulbs at different heights for the German Village Commission.

"It's just spectacular," Moore said. "You see the detail of him in ways you've never seen before."

In addition to the new lighting scheme, the Schiller statue is surrounded by a brand new garden.

Moore said recognizing Schiller provided the best opportunity to help the city of Columbus celebrate its bicentennial.

Over the years, the park has been host to the Ohio State Fair, a zoo and the Columbus Oktoberfest.

"That's where some really remarkable stories have taken place for almost as long as Columbus has been a city," Moore said.

The lighting ceremony is part of weekend full of events at the park.

Sept. 9, there will be a picnic, pie-baking contest, scavenger hunt and ice cream social.

In addition to the work of Friends of Schiller Park, the German Village Society has pitched in $2,500 toward a sign that tells the tale of Schiller.

Estimates put the sign project at $10,000. The remainder will be raised by Moore's committee.

"German Villagers have poured their time and treasure into making Schiller Park a showcase going all the way back to before 1891, when the original German settlers placed the Schiller statue in the park," said Shiloh Todorov, director of the German Village Society.

"Lighting the statue is the next major piece of that tradition, and the lighting ceremony is set to create an indelible memory for everyone who sees it," Todorov said.



100 years ago, German immigrants honored two writers from their homeland with statues in Schiller Park

Reprinted with permission of the Post-Standard
Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 6:18 AM

By Dick Case, Post-Standard columnist

Lauren Long / The Post-Standard

These statues in Schiller park [in Syracuse, New York] were installed on Oct. 15, 1911. They honor Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller.

Hail to Johann Christoph Friedrich von Schiller and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe!

A week from Saturday, Oct. 15, the statues will have been part of Syracuse for 100 years. The figures, the main component of a 27-foot monument to the two German writers, were dedicated Oct. 15, 1911 on the terrace of a drumlin in Schiller Park, on Syracuse’s North Side.

The anniversary comes as the city park that surrounds the statues breaks out a series of activities designed to improve the space, which has been a park since the turn of the 20th century. It used to be a Roman Catholic cemetery.

Schiller covers 37 acres close to the heart of the city. From the park’s round top, the view can’t be beat. In 1905, an urban planner visiting Syracuse called Schiller “one of the showplaces of the city.”

The park has seen bad times in recent years. Nick DeMartino, president of Friends of Schiller Park, said this week his group is trying to reverse that deterioration. Nick, a lawyer and former chief assistant district attorney, lives in Schiller’s only private home.

“We’re doing very well,” he said of the Friends park work.

The statues of Schiller and Goethe were restored by sculptor Sharon BuMann in 2003. They’d been abused, over time. Sharon found them pitted with split seams. The statues were filled with water. They were “incarcerated” in the sculptor’s phrase, behind a chain link fence designed to keep away vandals. It was replaced with an 8-foot picket. The German American Society of Central New York paid for half of the work.

German citizens of Syracuse donated the statues to the city in 1911, according to Eric Schiff, a professor of physics at Syracuse University, who has done research into the statues. He says the Syracuse figures, which are made up of thin cooper pieces joined together, were the last put up in the United States. They’re modeled on an 1857 bronze statue by Ernst Rietschel.

Schiff found a 1911 newspaper account of the dedication that attracted “thousands of German citizens of Syracuse.” Earlier, similar statues were dedicated in San Francisco, Cleveland and Milwaukee, all in city parks.

“While the statue has little meaning for people in the U.S. anymore,” Schiff says, “the original in Weimar, Germany seems more important than ever.” It’s mentioned as a national monument. “It’s fascinating to me that contemporary Germans would choose playwrights and poets to represent their country now,” according to Schiff.

The monument cost about $15,000 (In today’s dollars, that’s about $350,000.) The Syracuse statue was one of the last put up in that style of about 60 to Schiller and Goethe in the U.S. and Europe.

Nick DeMartino said the Friends group’s main project this year is completion of a walking trail of about a mile in the park. The trail starts in Schiller’s Farmer Street parking lot.

The trail will be marked with what Nick called “historic signs” with information about the park. The group has sold some 12 signs so far to neighborhood residents and businesses. The first signs will be up in time for a Friends fund-raising event Nov. 5 at Lou Bova Community Center in the park. The event seeks to raise money for Friends projects and for Syracuse United Soccer League’s field in Schiller.

On that same day, Nick said Steve Harris, the city-county aborist, has promised to plant 100 new trees in the park, replacing old trees that were taken down this summer. In addition, crews will clear brush and foliage in various areas.

He said a long-range goal is to convince National Grid to do a cleaning program in the park similar to one the company volunteered in Lincoln Park last year.

“We’re interested in clearing the Round Top of trees and brush to open up the view,” he explained.

Friends also has scheduled a “Turkey Trot” run in the park for Thanksgiving Day.

Dick Case writes Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at 470-2254, or by e-mail,

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