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Smithtown's Whisper the Bull statue will soon be joined by its rider

In the middle of an intersection in Smithtown,

In the middle of an intersection in Smithtown, you'll find a large statue of Whisper the Bull. Photo Credit: Newsday / Bill Davis

Smithtown's statue of Whisper the Bull will soon be joined by another illustrious bronze figure -- town founder Richard Smythe.

A statue of Smythe that was commissioned last summer has recently been completed, a few weeks shy of an unveiling ceremony in mid-September and the town's 350th anniversary parade.

More than three centuries after Smythe founded the town in 1665, he is returning to it, at the intersection of Route 111 and Main Street. The sculpture will be placed a little more than a mile east of Whisper, in front of 180 East Main St., a commercial office space owned by Smithtown-based Damianos Realty Group.

Cristofer Damianos, a principal of the company and a longtime Smithtown resident, said it always surprised him that there was a wonderful tale about Whisper the Bull, but little known about Smythe. According to town legend, Smythe rode the bull to mark out the town's boundaries. Damianos' company decided to commission Smythe's statue, spending about $300,000 on the project, including the concrete and granite work, lighting, engineering and other elements. A committee of Smythe's descendants and historical professionals were advisers.

"Having all of these interest groups involved in this committee really, really worked out," Damianos said.

The statue, created by Brooklyn-based StudioEIS, is a life-size bronze likeness of Smythe, depicted with the town's patent (the deed to the land given to him by Lyon Gardiner) in his left hand and gesturing with his right hand out at the land.

"He's saying, in essence, that this is the land we've left you," said town historian Bradley Harris. "I like to think he looked much the way we've caught him in the statue."

Replicating Smythe's appearance was a unique challenge for the team, since his exact physical stature and features remain a mystery. He lived during the 17th century, well before the invention of the camera, and there are no paintings of him, town officials said. StudioEIS relied on photographs of Smythe's progeny dating to the 18th century, as well as the appearances of his living descendants, many of whom still reside locally.

Richard B. Smith, mayor of the Village of Nissequogue and a 10th-generation descendant, said the composite certainly bears a family resemblance, adding that it reminds him of one of his brothers.

StudioEIS co-founder Ivan Schwartz said they strove to illustrate Smythe as a "kind of rugged individual, a self-made man."

After reaching a consensus about Smythe's likeness, the process began in earnest. It took sculptors roughly four months to render the statue in clay, and about the same amount of time to cast it in bronze. The advisory group visited the studio often to check on the sculpture's progress.

Damianos said honoring Smythe, who died in 1692, and the town's past is essential to the future.

"Here was a person who laid eyes on this land and said this is a great, great place," he said. "It's still true, 350 years later."


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