307th Infantry Regiment Memorial Grove (NY)

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Information

Title

307th Infantry Regiment Memorial Grove (NY)

Creator

W. Kerr Rainsford, architect

Date

trees: 1920-1922; memorial stone: 1926-1928

Description

The 307th Infantry Regiment Memorial Grove is an area of Central Park located just south of the Band Shell, surrounded on all four sides by paved walkways. It originally included at least 18 young oak trees planted in a series of ceremonies in 1920-1922. Sixteen of these trees were dedicated to the memory of the WWI dead of each of the 16 companies of the regiment. At some later time, a small, white, concrete pedestal bearing a brass plaque on its sloping top was installed next to each of 14 of the company trees. One of these company pedestals and plaques honored the fallen of three of the companies or other units of the regiment (i.e., HQ Company, Supply Company and the Sanitary Detachment), and the other 13 company pedestals and plaques honored the fallen of each of its 13 other companies (i.e., Companies A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L and M). Today, five or six of the original company trees which stood next to company pedestals, and some of the other original trees planted in the Grove, are missing.

Sometime in about 1926-1928, a small, natural boulder monument with an inscription on the front and a bronze tablet on the rear, was added to the collective monument. The inscription on the front of the boulder (facing the southwestern walkway) reads: “TO THE DEAD OF THE 307TH INFANTRY AEF, 509 OFFICERS AND MEN, 1917-1919". The bronze tablet on the rear lists the 16 companies of the 307th and the names of the members of each of them who fell during WWI.

The area of the Grove originally was covered with grass, consistent with the adjacent areas of the park. However, a number of years ago, the grass was replaced with wood chips, apparently as a result of soil erosion and insufficient sunlight below the tall tree canopy.

Sometime after the dedication of the 307th memorial trees and boulder in the Grove, another organization, the Knights of Pythias, added a partly hewn vertical stone east of the formation of 307th company trees and pedestals. This Knights of Pythias stone memorializes ten of their WWI dead, only one of whom served in the 307th. Although located at the Grove, this Knights of Pythias stone is not part of the collective monument of company trees and pedestals, and the boulder, dedicated to the memory of the 307th Infantry Regiment.

W. Kerr Rainsford, a writer and architect who served with the 307th, was in charge of the 1926 design and enhancement of the 307th Infantry Regiment Memorial Grove in Central Park, including the installation of the natural boulder monument and bronze tablet.

On June 9, 2012, three replacement bronze company plaques were dedicated to replace ones that had been stolen by vandals a number of years earlier.  One of those plaques specifically honors the fallen members of Company H, 307th Infantry Regiment, including baseball great CPT Edward (“Eddie”) L. Grant.

Location

Slightly east of the Naumberg Bandshell and just south of the Rumsey Playfield (Summer Stage), about a five-minute walk from either the East 69th or East 72nd St. entrance
New York, New York

Contributing Institution

Malcolm Schade, 307th Infantry Veterans Society, Inc.