Jean MacKay Henrich and Pulteney Park

May 3rd, 2024

(From June 1996 Historical Society Newsletter)

Pulteney Park has been a virtual constant in our local landscape throughout most of the past two centuries.  Although the land it occupies has remained the same, its function, design, and decorative elements have changed.  When Pulteney Park originated in 1793, the initial plan was to provide a public square surrounded by a commercial district.  Essentially, the park was a parking area for carriages and horses.  Some one hundred years later, fund-raising began for the beautification of the park and for the design and installation of a fountain.  In 1938, the function of Pulteney Park began to change.

a statues in Pulteney Park

Peace by Jean MacKay Henrich

In 1938, Jean MacKay Henrich was commissioned by the city of Geneva to create a monument sculpture for the park.  The statue, done in Georgia marble, was designed, and modeled by Jean MacKay Henrich and it’s the central figure of the war memorial in Pulteney Park.  The memorial commemorates the veterans of the three wars: Civil, Spanish American, and World War I.  The statue was appropriately named Peace by Henrich.  She guards the monument to the dead as she stands in the center of the square water basin.  The statue is shaded by historic elms and oaks and framed by pre-Victorian homes.  The guardian of the memorial, kneeling maiden in soft grey stone, is young, straight forward and strong; meditative and yet alert – one protective hand resting on her left knee, the other firmly grasping the sword, a symbol of guardianship.  Thus, she watches over the uncounted souls of those who went forth to defend and guard their country, families, and homes.

The statue was unveiled in Pulteney Park on Memorial Day 1939 and was Henrich’s first attempt at monumental sculpture.  Ironically, the original statue was cast in pink marble, but a dark vein ran across the face and Henrich refused to accept the work. The statue was then recast in grey marble.  The rejected statue ended up in West Jefferson County, North Carolina labeled Pocahontas 1595-1617.

Henrich, a graduate of Antioch College, also studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Paris Académie des Enfants, and holds a master’s degree in art education from the University of Buffalo.  Her work is said to evolve out of the elements of nature such as rock, water, storms, and wind.  Henrich began her career as a sculptor in the late 1930s and then moved to watercolors.  She worked almost exclusively in that medium for the rest of her career, although the remnants of the sculptor remained in her obsession with rock and elemental form.

Read more about the arts and parks in Geneva –

The arts in Geneva

Lakeside Park

Loomis Woods

Seneca Lake State  Park

Smith’s Park


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One response to “Jean MacKay Henrich and Pulteney Park”

  1. Inga-Mai (Pim) Larsson-Kovach says:

    Thank you for the newsletter from 1996.
    It is always good to be reminded of the art in our parks and its history.

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