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WWI Memorial Recreated in Bed-Stuy Park After Years of Theft and Neglect

By Natalie Musumeci | September 11, 2014 2:20pm
 The new memorial was unveiled during a rededication ceremony on Sept. 10, 2014.
WWI Memorial Recreated in Bed-Stuy's Saratoga Park
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BEDFORD-STUYVESANT — A Bed-Stuy World War I monument that was spray-painted, vandalized and finally stolen since being put in place nearly 100 years ago has been recreated.

The new memorial in Saratoga Park was unveiled Wednesday during a re-dedication ceremony attended by families of fallen World War I soldiers, city officials, current servicemen and women and neighborhood residents.

Sculptor Anatoly Mikhailov was able to reconstruct the original female figure holding a palm frond and shield using old photographs, archival documents and fragments of the original, the city's Parks Department said.

Mikhailov also recreated the memorial's honor roll inscribed with the names of 106 local heroes who died in combat during World War I.

The original bronze plaques were stolen on Sept. 24, 1970 and vandals later completely defaced the monument's Milford pink granite with spray paint and graffiti, according to the Parks Department.

Then, on April 20, 2000, the entire sculpture was taken and eventually destroyed, leaving the center of the memorial empty for years.

A citizen’s memorial committee had commissioned Italian-American sculptor James Novelli to create the monument symbolizing peace and war in 1920.

The original monument, dedicated in 1921, cost $5,550 to build, according to city records.

The new memorial was funded with $350,000 allocated from Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, who represents Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Parks Department said.

The rededication ceremony also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great War.