Funds being raised to restore headless horseman

Roslyn's Headless Horseman is two-thirds of the way

Roslyn's Headless Horseman is two-thirds of the way to getting his head back. The community has raised $66,000 so far, shy of the $100,000 goal it has set to restore the statue . (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin)

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Roslyn's Headless Horseman is two-thirds of the way to getting his head back.

The community has raised $66,000 so far, shy of the $100,000 goal it has set to restore the statue .

The crumbled statue of a horse tamer and his horse -- a hulking, 33-foot tall, 25-ton relic of a Gilded Age estate -- graced the entrance of Roslyn High School from 1959 until it was put in storage in 2012.


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Its fate hinges on alumni, who wax nostalgic about their Roslyn High days but worry that a new crop of residents may not care to fund the restoration.

"I don't think anyone who grew up in Roslyn in the '60s, or '70s has trouble remembering the horse or where it came from," said Barbara Berke, 62, a member of the class of 1969, who is spearheading the "Friends of the Horse Tamer" drive from her home in Hopkinton, Mass., outside Boston.

Berke said the issue is timely, since she worries the high school will soon have no students who attended with the statue in place.

It is part of a set of Tennessee marble statues believed to have been carved between 1910 and 1921 for financier Clarence Mackay's famed Harbor Hill estate. They were modeled after the The Marly Horses, commissioned in 1649 by Louis XIV and displayed in the Louvre, according to the website for the fundraising organizers.

The twin was recently restored and installed at Roslyn's Gerry Pond Park.

Fundraising began two years ago, as the statue was crumbling and the horse will need superglue injections and new legs and hooves.

The fundraising effort started slowly, fundraisers said, as the effects of the recession lingered. But momentum grew after Nassau County awarded the cause a $25,000 grant last fall.

"The past few years, it was an economically hard time to raise money for things that aren't essential," said Barry Edelson, the Roslyn School District's director of Community Relations. "Historic restoration of a statue may seem to people not something they can afford to support."

The statue of the horse is in the care of restorers Maggie and Hugh Tanchuck, owners of Glen Head-based North Shore Monuments. Cracks can be remedied through injections of an epoxy adhesive, but the horse's legs and hooves will need to be amputated and rebuilt.

And the horse tamer's head -- missing for at least two decades -- must be re-created from scratch. The decapitated tamer's armless torso sits in the Glen Head showroom, dwarfed by the steed.

The head's whereabouts puzzles alumni, who recalled the tamer when he had his wits about him.

Said Edelson, "If it's in someone's garage from youthful enthusiasm, we would take it back, no questions asked."

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