The Newtown Pentacle

Altissima quaeque flumina minimo sono labi

ceremonial mimicry

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Exquisite funerary monuments encountered at Woodlawn Cemetery.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The Long Monument at Woodlawn Cemetery is pictured above, a white bronze and black marble masterpiece. The oldest inscription on the stone is accredited to “Samuel Long, July 28, 1915.” There’s also “William G. Reynolds, July 30, 1950,” and “Alice Reynolds, December 17th, 1957.”

A bit of quick research on Samuel Long (of 137 Riverside Drive in Manhattan) reveals that he died without having left behind a proper will, and that his estate ended up being adjudicated in a court battle between his widow Alice (I have no idea did this is the aforementioned Alice who died in 1957), a business partner, and two unnamed brothers.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Samuel Long was a multi millionaire, in 1915 (the equivalent valuation of one million 1915 dollars is 24.4 million dollars in 2018, so…), who had made his fortune in the silent era movie business. He was only forty one years old when he died, after an illustrious career. He lived in the Clarendon Aprtments on 86th street and Riverside Drive, and had only arrived in NYC from Baltimore in 1897. He worked for the American Mutoscope and Biograph Company (later just Biograph) in a variety of executive roles until 1907, when he organized and became President of the Kalem Company, another film production outfit.

“White Bronze” is the trade term for a copper/zinc alloy that statuary such as the one seen adorning the Long memorial above is cast into. The ornamentation of mortuary stones and monuments with this material was fashionable for about a century from 1850-1950. Funeral Directors and “Stone” salesmen had catalogs of available castings available for plot owners to choose from. There are certain monuments which are entirely composed of this material, which – as mentioned innumerable times before – is worth a LOT of money in our copper hungry modern world.

Sneak thief and tomb robber alike would put some effort into dismantling and carrying off anything made of white bronze.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Another plot at Woodlawn which dates to a similar era as the Long Monument is the Miller Monument. The sculptural quality of the white bronze angel was spectacular and quite exquisite. This one used white granite instead of black marble for the base, and wasn’t too far from either Judge Schmuck (see yesterday’s post) or Samuel Long.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Dedicated to a fellow named David Miller (1839 to 1910), who didn’t leave many footprints behind that I could find, this monument was absolutely best of breed as far as representing figurative sculptural style from the “fin de siècle” pre WW1 era. Obviously cast in a mold, this white bronze angel was incredibly well executed.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Man, just look at that.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Nearby the grave of intrepid girl reporter Nellie Bly, the white bronze Caputo monument was centered around a cruciform of white bronze and was quite captivating. All the bas tableaus on its face depict “stations of the cross” scenes. It was surrounded by foot stones which carried individual interment information for the various members of the family.

Upcoming Tours and Events

June 22nd – The Birthplace of Mobil Oil: A Walking Tour
– with Newtown Creek Alliance.

Join NCA historian Mitch Waxman and NCA’s project manager Willis Elkins for walk through the birthplace of Mobil Oil, past the DEP’s largest Wastewater Treatment Plant and to the Kingsland Wildflowers green roof. The tour will also visit NCA’s Living Dock on the way; showcasing restoration efforts adjacent to major industrial operations and in the wake of legacies of pollution and neglect.
The tour will end at the 22,000 square foot Kingsland Wildflowers project, with panoramic views of the Newtown Creek and Manhattan skyline at sunset.

Tickets and more details

June 30th – The Skillman Avenue Corridor
– with Access Queens.

Starting at the 7 train on Roosevelt Avenue, we will explore this thriving residential and busy commercial thoroughfare, discussing the issues affecting its present and future. Access Queens, 7 Train Blues, Sunnyside Chamber of Commerce, and Newtown Creek Alliance members will be your guides for this roughly two mile walk.
Skillman Avenue begins at the border of residential Sunnyside and Woodside, and ends in Long Island City at 49th avenue, following the southern border of the Sunnyside Yards for much of its path. Once known as Meadow Street, this colonial era thoroughfare transitions from the community of Sunnyside to the post industrial devastations of LIC and the Dutch Kills tributary of Newtown Creek.

Tickets and more details

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 19, 2018 at 11:00 am

Posted in Bronx

Tagged with ,

One Response

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  1. The cruciform in the sixth photo is more properly called a Celtic cross. An unusual momento mori considering Caputo is most likely an Italian surname and usually would adorn the grave of one of Irish descent.

    I do like Mr. Long’s angel. She has much bigger and perkier, shall we say feminine attributes, than Mr. Miller’s angel perhaps more befitting one who was in the movie business. There are some who say more than a handful is a waste but I say the bigger the better and apparently Mr Long agrees.

    Another thing occurred to me as I noted the weathering patterns the make the angels a mixture of dark and light. That reminds me of Melinoe who one should expect to encounter in a graveyard.

    Don Cavaioli


    June 19, 2018 at 12:55 pm

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