Surprise shoe inspires time capsule for Angel of Peace
(9/22/2006) When workers moved New Haven’s 119-year-old Angel of Peace statue from her perch on East Rock for restorations, they might have expected to find dirt, dents, or signs of age. They certainly didn’t expect to find an old shoe.
But that’s exactly what they did find: a century-old shoe lodged inside the cavity of the 11.5 foot bronze statue. Some New Haven officials believe the shoe is an example of a “concealment shoe,” a superstitious practice that reached its peak of popularity in the northern U.S. in the 18th and 19th centuries. (The Angel of Peace was completed in 1887.) According to the Historical Society of Sharon, Connecticut, the superstition—which dates back to 14th Century Western Europe—involves the placement of well-worn shoes in buildings under construction to ward away evil spirits.
Inspired by this unusual window into the lives of New Haveners in 1887, Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. and New Haven Director of Parks Bob Levine have decided to offer future residents a similar glimpse into the lives of the New Haveners of 2006. The City wants ideas from the public on what can be put inside a time capsule which, like the shoe, will be left inside the statue. Time capsule suggestions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and the messages will be displayed on a special website linked to the City’s main page at www.cityofnewhaven.com.
In February, the Angel of Peace was removed from atop East Rock as part of an effort to restore the entire monument. It was shipped to a foundry in Flushing, NY before being returned to Connecticut for further restoration. Now, restorers from ConservArt in Hamden are conducting the final stages of the restoration. In accordance with the wishes of Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., these final stages in the project are being completed on the New Haven Green.
The Angel of Peace is the crowning majesty of the New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument, which stands in honor of those Americans who have served their country in battle throughout history. Commissioned in 1885 and completed in 1887, the monument was inspired by the Civil War but has since become a tribute to all of America’s veterans.
The monument’s square pedestal comprises four different bas-relief sculptures commemorating the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. On each corner of the pedestal sits a bronze female figure, the four women together representing Patriotism, Victory, Prosperity, and History.
Levine said that approximately 250,000 cars pass the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument each day on Interstate 91.