History in Bronze: Kinderhook’s Martin Van Buren

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KINDERHOOK, N.Y. (NEWS10)—The bronze statue of the eighth President of the United States Martin Van Buren has sat in the small park in the center of Kinderhook since the summer of 2007. South Dakota sculptor Edward Hlavka created the statue after reaching out to the park service at Lindenwald.

Van Buren was born in 1782 in Kinderhook to a father who was a tavern owner. Van Buren was the first American President to be born as a citizen.

Nearly every day when the weather was good Martin Van Buren would ride the two miles into the village from his home at Lindenwald.

“Thousands of his countrymen, meaning men from around here, came to his funeral,” Village of Kinderhook Historian Ruth Piwonka said Friday. “He must have touched people in a way that we kind of miss now.”

Van Buren is depicted sitting on a bench with a newspaper in his lap and his cane in hand. The bronze sculpture incorporates a bench meant to be used by visitors.

Martin Van Buren’s status sits on a bench overlooking the village of Kinderhook.

“One night, I was walking late at night with my dog,” Piwonka said. “Looking across the street at the statue, there was a young man seated next to Martin talking away.”

Piwonka said the statue is a great place to talk out your thoughts and having your picture taken with a president.

Besides visiting the Van Buren statue, make a picnic of it. Across the street is the town square, a lovely area for relaxing. While visiting the statue, explore the village, our eighth president called home.

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