Shore Report

Belmar Raising ‘Dough’ to Repair Iconic World War I Statue

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Fundraising efforts have been stepped up to repair Belmar’s “The Spirit of the Doughboy” statue, vandalized 10 months ago when a portion of its rifle was broken off. Credits: Cathy Goetz
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A “buy a brick” program, which has created a memorial patio around the Doughboy statue, is an ongoing fundraiser effort by the Belmar Historical Society. Credits: Cathy Goetz
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BELMAR, NJ — Belmar is rallying the troops to raise funds for the repair of its “The Spirit of the Doughboy” monument vandalized 10 months ago.

Erected in 1930 to recognize 102 borough residents who served in World War I, the statue of the iconic infantryman stands in the borough’s Memorial Field on West Railroad Avenue, where in September 2016 vandals broke off a portion of its rifle and loosened the towering figure from its base.

Since then, fundraising efforts by the Belmar Historical Society for the repair work have not generated much interest — until now. After Borough Councilman Brian Magovern brought up the topic at a recent meeting, Mayor Matthew Doherty has taken the reins to further promote the initiative, including placing a dedicated link to “Donate to Repair the Doughboy Statue” on the borough’s website. To date, some $2,500 has been raised through the web-based effort.

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“The Doughboy statue has been a gem here in Belmar since the 1930s. We must return it to its former glory,” Doherty said.

What makes the undertaking even more relevant is that 2017 marks the U.S. Centennial Commemoration of World War I, which the nation entered on April 6, 1917.

Since being called into action to have the pressed copper statue repaired, the historical society has received one $17,000 bid from a company specializing in metalwork restoration, according to Pat O’Keefe, the society’s secretary. “We’ve been trying to get other bids, but there are not too many companies that do this type of work.”

The last time the volunteer organization helped the borough raise funds to repair and bronze the statue was in 2004 when it garnered donations through a “buy a brick” effort to create a memorial patio around the statute and received a matching grant from the Monmouth County Historical Commission.

In fact, the memorial brick program is an ongoing effort by the Belmar Historical Society — and another way it raises funds to ensure the sculpture stands in grand style as a memorial to borough residents who served in World War I.

In addition, a benefit concert featuring local musician Pat Roddy will be held on Tuesday, August 8 at the Shillelagh Club, 815 16th Avenue, Belmar. Tickets for the event, which will be held from 7 to 10 p.m., are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

To purchase tickets, checks payable to Belmar Historical Society will be accepted at the Belmar Museum, 900 E Street, Belmar, or they can be mailed to Belmar Historical Society, P.O. Box A, Belmar, NJ 07719.

The Belmar Museum, situated in the annex of the Union Firehouse, is open Monday, 2 to 4 p.m., Thursday, 10 a.m. to noon and the second Saturday of the month, 1 to 3 p.m.

For more information about these fundraising efforts, contact the society at info@belmarhistoricalsociety.org or 908-309-3380.

The Spirit of the Doughboy Statue: Standing Tall for Nearly 90 Years

Visible from the Route 35 bridge, “The Spirit of the Doughboy” statue is one of eight such monuments in New Jersey created by sculptor Ernest Moore Viquesney. The sculpture depicts a World War I infantryman advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of “No Man’s Land" with a rifle in his left hand and a grenade in his raised right hand.

Although World War I ended in 1919, the American Legion in Belmar spearheaded the effort to bring a doughboy statue to the borough — an effort that came to fruition in 1930 during the monument’s dedication. Standing across the street from the building on Route 35 that once housed the veterans group and then borough hall, the statue was moved to its current location, also fondly referred to as “Doughboy Park.” Following its last refurbishment, the monument was rededicated in November 2006, according to records compiled by the Belmar Historical Society.

 

 

 

 

 

Although World War I ended in 1919, the American Legion in Belmar spearheaded the effort to bring a doughboy statue to the borough — an effort that came to fruition in 1930 during the monument’s dedication, pictured here.

 

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