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Dinolfo, Bronson Break Ground On New Douglas Memorial In Highland Park

Dinolfo, Bronson Break Ground On New Douglas Memorial In Highland Park

County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo and New York State Assemblymember Harry Bronson were joined by County Legislators and local stakeholders for a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate the start of County construction on the new Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza in Highland Park. Located on the corner of South Avenue and Robinson Drive, at the entrance of the Highland Park Bowl, the new plaza is destined to become a significant landmark as the site of the relocated Frederick Douglass Monument statue.

“Frederick Douglass’s legacy is a testament to what makes our community such an incredible place – an unyielding commitment to equality, inclusion, and fairness that rings true throughout the generations,” said Dinolfo. “Monroe County is proud to be leading this bipartisan effort to build a beautiful new plaza for the Douglass statue in Highland Park, so we may always remember the contributions of our hometown civil rights hero. I thank Assemblyman Bronson and our partners for helping us to bring the iconic Douglass memorial – and Frederick’s memory – front and center.”

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza and statue relocation is a collaborative effort of Monroe County and the State of New York. Thanks to the efforts of Assemblymember Harry Bronson, a New York State grant in the amount of $125,000 was secured for the $240,000 project. Monroe County is managing the project and will fund the remaining $115,000 of project costs.

“Over ten years ago, J.D. Jackson came to me to share his vision of illuminating the statue of Frederick Douglass in Highland Park to inspire a heightened awareness of the monument and its meaning. Today, thanks to partnerships between New York State, Monroe County, the City of Rochester and local advocates – that vision has been turned into a reality,” said Bronson. “These renovations will allow our community to illuminate the past and honor the life of Frederick Douglass. The Rochester community Frederick Douglass called home will never forget the lasting impact he had on the world – as an orator, abolitionist, advocate, freedom fighter, and Rochestarian. His statue will shine bright and his legacy will live on.”

Moving the Frederick Douglass Monument statue to a more accessible and visible location was inspired by the advocacy of Rev. Julius D. Jackson, Jr., who mobilized an initial push to light the statue.

Rev. Jackson is both a leader in our community and at Eureka Lodge No. 36, the organization that initiated the original effort, in the late 1890s, to erect a statue to Frederick Douglass in Rochester. Rev. Jackson’s determination eventually led to the current plans to build the new plaza, relocate the statue and illuminate it at night.

“A dream deferred does not equate to a dream denied,” said Rev. Julius D. Jackson, Jr. “Keep dreaming and get a team because teamwork makes the dream work."

Construction of the new plaza is scheduled to begin later this month and continue into October, culminating with the Frederick Douglass statue relocation. In addition to the statue, the site will feature a new concrete surface, accented by Bluestone pavers, as well as stone seating walls, ornamental planting beds, lighting and an illumined sculpture array depicting the North Star standing out among other constellations. The North Star held significance in Douglass’s life, as guidance for the Underground Railroad and the name of the newspaper that he published, here in Rochester. A dedication ceremony will be held this fall, upon the completion of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza.

The Frederick Douglass Monument statue was the first in the United States to memorialize an African American citizen. The statue was first erected in front of the New York Central Train Station on the corner of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue in 1899. It was relocated to the Highland Park Bowl in 1941, a few hundred yards from the site where his home once stood on South Avenue.

The General Contractor for the Frederick Douglass Memorial Plaza is Cummings Construction. CP Ward has been selected to move the statue. Both are local companies, located in Monroe County. Barton & Loguidice is the County’s engineering and landscape architect consultant for the project.