LAKE PLACID The statue of John Brown and the plaques in the grave yard have just undergone a complete cleaning and restoration. This work was carried out by expert monument conservator Heidi Miksch from the New York State Bureau of Historic Sites at Peebles Island. Mikschs tireless efforts and skill have brought the monuments back to almost new appearance.
The statue was cast by the artist Joseph Polia in 1935. The work was commissioned by an organization called the John Brown Society who would make annual pilgrimages to the site. Most of the groups members who would later form the NAACP were put up in private homes since the hotels in the area at the time were restricted against African Americans and other minorities.
Polia, who made a living mostly making Spanish American and World War One Monuments, was known for taking unconventional approaches with his subjects. He chose not to sculpt Brown alone in the piece, but instead included a bare footed slave child to whom Brown is giving protection and guiding north to freedom.
The brass plaques affixed to the large stone in the grave yard were commissioned at different times in the sites history. One cast in 1916 remembers Browns army of slave liberation known as the Provisional Army of the United States. It lists the names of Browns small raiding force of 22 men which included five African Americans, three of Browns sons and two of the Thompson family of North Elba who took part in the October 1859 Raid on the Federal Arsenal in Harpers Ferry, W. Va. This work was commissioned by O. Byron Brewster 1916 who was the nephew of Browns daughter-in-law, Martha Brewster.
The other plague was placed on the stone by the John Brown Society and Browns grandchildren in 1946. This monument commemorates the Women of the Brown Farm who Gallantly aided their men in the Struggle Against slavery.