History in Bronze: Kingston’s Academy Green Park

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KINGSTON, N.Y. (NEWS10)—Geoffrey Miller, the Ulster County Historian, first came to the City of Kingston in 1971 and remembered Academy Green Park.

“When I first came to Kingston, this was always the center for recreation for the community,” said Miller. “This is the dividing line between mid-town Kingston and what’s known as the Stockade District.”

Academy Green Park’s history began on July 15, 1660, when Dutch Governor Peter Stuyvesant negotiated a treaty with the Esopus Tribe.  During the Civil War, local Ulster County Troops would gather at the site for review.

The Kingston Academy moved to the site in the mid-1800s and was torn down in 1915 when they finished the New Kingston High School. In 1918 Academy Green became a park.

Emily Crane Chadbourne rescued the three bronze statues from a scrapyard and had them placed on pedestals in the Academy Green Park in 1950.

Residing in the park are three bronze statues by famed Scottish-born sculptor John Massey Rhind. The sculptures once decorated the front of the Exchange Court building at 52 Broadway in NYC. Originally there were four statues from the Gorham Foundry placed on the front of the building in 1898.

“When they renovated it (the building) in the 1940s, the statues were removed and scrapped,” said Miller.

Emily Crane Chadbourne, then president of the Senate House Association in Kingston, heard the fate of the bronze statues’ and purchased them from a scrapyard in Brooklyn and had them brought to Kingston.

Chadbourne chose the three statues because of their significance to Kingston’s history each represented. The 11-foot-tall bronze statues were placed on top of their bases and were dedicated in June of 1950. The fourth bronze was of General James Wolfe, a British Army Officer famed for his 1759 victory over the French, and was saved by a private source and sent to Canada.

The park has a long history dating back to the founding of Kingston.

The three bronzes saved were of George Clinton, Peter Stuyvesant, and Henry Hudson.

George Clinton, an Ulster County native, a soldier and statesman, was New York’s first governor and later the fourth Vice-President of the United States under two different presidents, Thomas Jefferson (1805-09) and James Madison (1809-12).

The second bronze statue was of Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch director-general of the New Netherland’s colony from 1647 to 1664 when the territory was ceded to the English. Stuyvesant brought the slave trade to the City of New Amsterdam. 

Later he brought 70 troops to the city of Kingston and built the Stockade, which helped in the war between the settlers and the Esopus Tribe. Over the summer of 2020 many called for the removal of statues across the Capital Region including Stuyvesant’s statue, due to the way the local indigenous people were treated under his rule.

The last bronze is of Henry Hudson, an English sea explorer and navigator who worked for the Dutch East India Company in 1609 and sailed up the Hudson River searching for a northwest passage to Asia. He navigated the Hudson River as far as the future site of the city of Albany.

In recent times the statues of Clinton and Stuyvesant have come under scrutiny. Clinton did own slaves, and Stuyvesant promoted the slave trade in the New World.

“(Stuyvesant) opened the first slave market in New Amsterdam,” Miller said.

Miller also said that Stuyvesant would not let the Jews fleeing the Inquisition build a synagogue until he was ordered to by the Netherlands.

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