His stern expression appears to reflect consternation at having to relocate for the third time in as many centuries to yet another home on the Franklin & Marshall College campus.
However, the 22 1/2-ton statute of Abraham de Peyster, with his bronze likeness now coated by time with an oxidized patina, went cooperatively when a heavy crane lifted him just a few inches off the ground and gently set him down about 6 feet from where he once resided.
The statue, located near the southwest corner of Buchanan and College avenues, stands in front of F&M’s Herman Arts Center, scheduled for demolition later this month to make way for the new Susan & Benjamin Winter Visual Arts Center.
You can’t blame de Peyster for looking a little put out. He was first erected in 1895 on Bowling Green Park in New York City, where he served as the 20th mayor from 1691 to 1694, but the city rejected him. His pedestal was too small, but, according to The New York Times, politics also was involved.
Gen. Watts de Peyster, who at that time had recently donated a new library to F&M, decided to give his ancestor to the College in 1897. The statue arrived by train.
The statue stood in front of the de Peyster Library until 1937, when it was moved to make way for a new library on the site, now Shadek-Fackenthal Library.
He will have his back to the new visual arts center, but de Peyster is in good statuary company – President James Buchanan’s statue stands a few yards away.