Location: Schenectady, New York State, USA
In 1844 at the current intersection of Front, Ferry, and Green Streets, a circular plot of grass was planted with trees and surrounded by a wooden fence to mark the site of a Colonial fort built in 1704.
In 1887 the wooden fence was replaced with an equivalent forged in metal, and a cast iron pedestal was installed surmounted by the statue of an Indian.
The pedestal is essentially a drinking fountain manufactured by J. L. Mott Iron Works of New York. The structure is seated on an octagonal stone plinth. It consists of a single pedestal with attic base and canted corners surmounted by a bronze statue of an Indian Chief. Eight arched cornices contain dolphin mascarons, symbolic of guardians of water, designed to spout water into basins.
An attic base supports a short column containing four inset panels bounded by pilasters. Alternating panels display a dedication plaque: Queens New Fort / Built 1705 / Demolished During / The Revolutionary War / This / Memorial Statue / Erected / 12th September 1887.
Two large demi-lune fluted troughs for use by horses usually attached to opposite sides of the pedestal were placed outside the perimeter of the fence. The troughs became obsolete during the advent of the motor vehicle and were removed.
The bronzed statue of an Indian mounted on a cast iron pedestal was purchased as a garden ornament by John Henry Starin, an affluent U.S. congressman who had hundreds of statues on his expansive property in Fultonville. Nicknamed St. Nicholas because of his generosity and philanthropy, Starin donated the statue to the city.
The model of the Indian was originally a wood carving created by Samuel Anderson Robb who was the leading cigar store Indian peddler. It was carved for William Demuth & Co. who cast it in zinc and advertised it in his catalog as “No. 53 Indian Chief.” In 1873, J.L. Mott Iron Works purchased the design and listed it in their catalog of statuary with dimensions of 5ft. 9ins. to the top of the head and 6ft. 6ins. to the top of the feathers. In his right hand the Indian Chief holds an arrow, and in his left hand he holds a bow attached to a base near his left foot, which rests on a rock. (This stance is called contrapposto, where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed.) A tree stump behind his right leg balances the sculpture. He is dressed in a headband containing three feathers standing erect, a bear claw necklace, a cloak, a breechcloth (fabric tucked into a belt that covered the front and back), fringed leggings and moccasins.
In 1898 a plaque was added to the base of the pedestal by the Common Council on the centennial anniversary of the inauguration of the city.
As part of Schenectady’s tri-centennial celebrations in 1962 the Indian statue was named Lawrence to commemorate a Christian Mohawk who assisted early settlers after the 1690 Massacre. A bronze plaque was attached to the base of the fountain following a parade.
In 1986, the fountain was refurbished, and the head dress and arrow on the statue were replaced. The feathers were incorrectly positioned to the left.
Twenty six years later in 2012, a project to restore the structure was administered by the Stockade Association and refinished by Legere Restorations using a blasting method with baking soda. Note that the feathers have been re-aligned to the original position.
- Attic base, a column base with two rings
- Canted corner, an angled surface which cuts of a corner
- Contrapposto, stance where one leg bears the weight and the other leg is relaxed
- Cornice, a molding or ornamentation that projects from the top of a building
- Demi-lune, half moon or crescent shape
- Fluted, a long rounded groove
- Mascaron, a decorative element in the form of a sculpted face or head of a human being or an animal
- Pedestal, an architectural support for a column or statue
- Pilaster, a column form that is only ornamental and not supporting a structure
- Plinth, Flat base usually projecting, upon which a pedestal, wall or column rests.