Restoration of the 100-year-old former Pennsylvania Station marble eagle now roosting at the Hicksville LIRR depot has been completed, thanks to three benefactors.
The trio stepped up after Newsday reported in September that local preservationists had spent $5,000 for the bird's face-lift, but were $750 short of completing the restoration.
The preservationists restored the eagle and replaced the beak after it had fallen off and been initially replaced by a poor imitation, but the $750 was needed for the final step: applying a protective coating to the statue.
When three readers each offered the amount, organizers used the $2,250 not only for the protective coating but to prime and paint its base as well.
"The eagle now looks beautiful," said railroad historian Dave Morrison of Plainview, who helped organize the project. "The protective coating brings out the pink tone of the marble. I think it looks as beautiful as it did in 1910. It was exciting that we could get the job completed. If it wasn't for the three people, it would have dragged out."
The 5,700-pound eagle has perched at the Hicksville Long Island Rail Road station since 1965. The eagle was among 22 on the facade of the original Pennsylvania Station in Manhattan before much of it was demolished in 1964 to make way for a new Madison Square Garden. Samuel Goldberg, who taught Latin at Hicksville High School, then arranged to get one eagle for Hicksville.
One of the three donations came from Sue Roach of Farmingdale, a former student of Goldberg's who recalled how hard he worked to bring the eagle to Hicksville.
"Maybe once in a lifetime you have a teacher you remember all your life," Roach said. "Mr. Goldberg was that teacher for me."
Attorney Jeff Kimmel of Plainview, who commutes by train to the city daily from Hicksville and said he loves art and history, donated because the initial replacement beak looked like "a piece of mud they slapped on it. When I saw the article I thought it was a really nice thing. I thought 750 bucks, I'll give the money. I love the eagle."
After the restoration, he said, "It looks great."
Charles F. Connell, an office manager from Huntington, said he donated because he is very interested in the mid 20th-century and "I find it fascinating that it's been there since 1965." He said he sees the statue when he goes to Hicksville to visit friends.
The statue will be rededicated Oct. 28 at 11 a.m.
The new beak was the work of fine arts conservator Steve Tatti from Manhattan. Nassau County gave $2,500 from its hotel and motel tax to the project. The rest came from the Hicksville Historical Society and Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.