Van Buren bust replica watches over ICC again

The New York State Museum gave the Ichabod Crane School District a replica of the bust of President Martin Van Buren after the district returned the original bust to the museum two years ago. It is pictured in the high school library. Photo by Emilia Teasdale

KINDERHOOK—Davin Lander, the state historian, attended the Ichabod Crane Central School District Board of Education meeting on January 10 as part of the presentation of a replica bust of the 8th president of the United States and Kinderhook resident, Martin Van Buren (1782-1862), created using 3D-printing technology.

The original marble sculpture was housed in the district for over 70 years, with the stipulation that that museum could ask for it back. In 2021 the museum did, so now it is in the state museum in Albany.

“I am grateful for the partnership that we have fostered with the New York State Museum,” said

Schools Superintendent Suzanne Guntlow in a press release. “Martin Van Buren is an important part of our community’s history and identity, and we look forward to teaching more generations of students his legacy.”

According to the district press release, at some point after President Van Buren’s death in 1862, the bust was acquired by the state and placed in the Executive Mansion in Albany, ending up in storage in the mansion’s basement. In early 1947 workers found the bust and it was briefly transferred to the state Capitol. In February of 1947, Leita Dahlgren, secretary of the Parent-Teacher Association at the Martin Van Buren High School, wrote to Governor Thomas Dewey asking for the bust to be transferred to the school. On April 7, Gov. Dewey’s secretary responded, saying that the governor “would be happy to loan the bust to the school.”

At the meeting, Mr. Lander said that the state museum had this replica printed and painted for the district. “If you put them next to each other they are very hard to tell apart,” he said of the two busts. The original bust was sculpted by German sculptor Ferdinand Pettrich while President Van Buren was alive.

Mark Costanzo, Robert Hunter, Brianna Martin, David Oldrich, Grace Perito and Evan Schieren, all students from the district’s AP history class, spoke to the board about President Van Buren’s life and the history of the bust. Mr. Lander pointed out, speaking after the students’ presentation, that the trail of history “leads up to today.”

Representatives from the Friends of Lindenwald, the National Historic Site at the president’s home in Kinderhook, and the state park director of the site also attended the meeting. Also at the meeting the board heard a presentation from the district’s history department. And several members of the Kinderhook Scout Troop 2113 attended the meeting for a merit badge in the community.

School Board President Matthew Nelson pointed out that it was just a “total fluke that we had a night of history.”

Also at the meeting:

•The board discussed the superintendent search. Superintendent Guntlow is retiring at the end of the school year. The board will work with Questar III BOCES, at no cost to the district, for the search and approved a contract at the meeting to work with consultant Lee Bordick, a former interim superintendent of the district, on the search

•The board began discussions on the 2023-24 proposed budget. Through the next three months the board will review the budget before it goes to the voters for approval on May 16

•The board reviewed the enrollment numbers for this year, which are up from last year to over 1,700 students. Superintendent Guntlow said that had to do with some home schooled students returning to the district.

The next board meeting will be February 7 at 7 p.m. in the high school library. Agendas and minutes are at www.ichabodcrane.org

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

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