History in Bronze: The John Brown Statue and his Farm


LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (NEWS10)—The bronze sculpture of John Brown took fifteen years of hard work and dedication from writer and activist Jesse Max Barber. The John Brown Memorial Association raised funds in Philidelphia during the Great Depression, and the statue was placed in the traffic circle in front of the house in 1935.

The Boulder where Jesse Max Barber wanted the John Brown statue to have been placed.

The original placement for the statue envisioned by Barber was the large stone next to Brown’s Gravesite.

“Max Barber’s hope all along was to put the statue on top of the great boulder inside the John Brown shrine where Brown was buried with this family and some of his followers,” Amy Godine, curator and chief researcher for the Timbuctoo Exhibit at the John Brown Farm said. “That’s what he told the sculptor Joseph Pollia to do to design it for placement on top of the boulder.”

The placement didn’t happen, and Barber was told to find a different site instead of inside the gated area.

The grave of John Brown, his two son who were with him at Harper’s Ferry and some of the remains of Browns men from the raid.
The statue by Joseph Pollia of Brown and a young man looks out over the fields in the traffic circle when you get to the farm.

Brown heard of the Timbuctoo community in the Adirondacks that started in 1846 when the New York Senate declared that for Blacks to vote, they need to prove they had $250 of property.  Gerrit Smith, a wealthy New York landowner, gave away 120,000 acres of land in North Elba, New York, to black families, mostly from New York City to settle.

This ambitious project came to the attention of Brown, who moved his family to the area in 1849.  

“As a project that supported Black voting rights and black freedom and black economic independence and living on the land,” said Godine, “and claiming a piece of the wilderness, it had an enormous residence for Black Americans for a long time.”   

The old barn was moved from where it originally sat, now where the John Brown statue is, to its new home on the hill overlooking the farm. The Timbuctoo Exhibition is on the upper floor of the barn.

The Brown home sits still on the farm site, now a museum.  The old barn offers a view into the past of Timbuctoo on its upper floor.


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