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Statue Planned For 'Ragtime' Author E.L. Doctorow In New Rochelle

The Doctorow Legacy Initiative Committee with elected officials. Photo Credit: Submitted
Maquette of public art honoring E.L. Doctorow, created by Derek Chalfant Photo Credit: Submitted

NEW ROCHELLE,  N.Y. --State Assembly member Amy Paulin, Mayor Noam Bramson and Helen Doctorow, widow of author E.L. Doctorow, were at the New Rochelle Public Library on Thursday morning, Feb. 23, to announce a $125,000 grant from New York State that will support the Doctorow Legacy Initiative, honoring the acclaimed author in the city that inspired his best-known work, "Ragtime."

The Doctorow Legacy Initiative also introduced sculptor Derek Chalfant, whose proposal was selected in an international RFP process last summer.

“We received 17 proposals from artists across the U.S. and as far away as Turkey and Spain,” said Theresa Kump Leghorn, president of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, who sits on the Doctorow Legacy Initiative committee.

The proposed site is Huguenot Park, in the geographic center of New Rochelle. City historian Barbara Davis said, “We believe this is the ideal location because of its proximity to Broadview Avenue, where the Doctorow family lived and which served as the inspiration for 'Ragtime.”

“E.L. Doctorow was a true American treasure and undoubtedly one of the most admired residents in New Rochelle’s history,” said Bramson. “I look forward to acknowledging Ed’s remarkable life and accomplishments through a permanent installation, and I express my gratitude to the artists and community leaders who have spearheaded this important initiative.”

In addition to the statue, the committee has supported a Heritage Award designation for the Doctorow’s former home on Broadview Avenue and the creation of educational programs in the schools.

The committee -- made up of representatives from the New Rochelle Council on the Arts, the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence and the City of New Rochelle, plus City Historian Barbara Davis – is kicking off a public fundraising campaign to pay for landscaping and programming.

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA), a 501 ©3 organization established in 1975, is the lead agency for this project; with NRCA acting as the fiscal agent, donors’ contributions are tax deductible.

To make a tax deductible contribution with a credit card, donors can visit or mail a check (with Doctorow Legacy written on the notes line) to NRCA, P.O. Box 211, New Rochelle, NY 10804.

Edgar Lawrence "E. L." Doctorow (Jan. 6, 1931 – July 21, 2015) was an author, editor and professor, known internationally for his works of historical fiction, including "Loon Lake," "The Waterworks," "The Book of Daniel, " "Welcome to Hard Times," "The March" and "Ragtime" (named one of the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century).

He was also a beloved New Rochelle resident, and Bramson said he received many calls from citizens asking the city to honor the author after he passed away in 2015. Bramson appointed a committee to consider the most appropriate way to honor Doctorow’s legacy.

Chalfant is an associate professor of art at Elmira College, located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.  Born in Danville, Ind., Chalfant earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Herron School of Art at Indiana University- Purdue University at Indianapolis and a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Notre Dame.

He has been teaching art and art history at Elmira College since 2003.

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