posted September 24, 1997

Book Tells Story Of Creation of Van Raalte Statue

A new book chronicles the 75-year dream of installing a monumental statue in honor of Holland's founder, the Rev. Albertus C. Van Raalte.

          The book, "A Dream Fulfilled:  The Van Raalte
  Sculpture in Centennial Park," is being released in
  conjunction with the October 2-3 visit of Princess Margriet
  of the Netherlands and her husband, Pieter van Vollenhoven.
  The princess will be attending a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. on
  Thursday, Oct. 2, during which a commemorative plaque for
  the statue will be unveiled, and will be presented a
  leatherbound copy of the book during the event.
          The 122-page monograph was written by Dr. Jacob E.
  Nyenhuis and Dr. Jeanne M. Jacobson of the Hope College
  faculty.  It includes background on the project, the story
  of the casting of the statue, a brief biography of Van
  Raalte and historical information concerning Centennial
  Park.
          "So many people have asked for information about
  the sculpture that it seemed to us important to make
  available added resources for the community to consult and
  enjoy," said Nyenhuis, who coordinated the statue project.
          Nyenhuis, provost and professor of classics at
  Hope, is the author of a forthcoming book about a British
  sculptor who drew inspiration from Greek mythology.
  Jacobson is co-author of a 1996 biography of Van Raalte, and
  is a senior research fellow with the college's A.C. Van
  Raalte Institute for Historical Studies and an adjunct
  professor of education.
          The statue was dedicated on the eastern side of
  the park on May 1.  The project was funded by the family of
  Peter Huizenga of Oak Brook, Ill., who is a 1960 Hope
  graduate and a member of the college's Board of Trustees.
          The casting, installation and ceremonies represent
  a major turn-around for the statue project, which had almost
  been lost to obscurity.  The monument was originally
  proposed for Holland's 75th anniversary in 1922, but was not
  pursued for financial reasons.  The proposal was
  subsequently forgotten, and was uncovered first through a
  single reference discovered by Dr. Elton Bruins, director of
  the Van Raalte Institute, as he later conducted research on
  area history.
          According to Nyenhuis, the idea for the book
  emerged in part as a reaction to the fragility of the early
  record.  He also noted that it quickly became obvious that
  the volume needed to discuss more than the statue alone.
          "The very fact that we had very slim evidence from
  the initial conception of the project persuaded me that a
  better historical record of its completion needed to be
  preserved," Nyenhuis said.
          "As we worked together on the project, it expanded
  somewhat in scale because we not only wanted to provide a
  complete record of the sculpture itself, but also to
  document its context, including Centennial Park, the life of
  Van Raalte himself, and the history of the immigration to
  and settling of Holland, Michigan," he said.  "When the War
  Memorial Committee and the Veterans' Council added plaques
  to the Holland Area Veterans Monument in Centennial Park on
  July 4, 1997, it seemed only fitting to incorporate into the
  book the names of the 210 soldiers who died during war
  time."
          Copies of "A Dream Fulfilled:  The Van Raalte
  Sculpture in Centennial Park" will be available in the
  college's Hope-Geneva Bookstore and Haworth Conference and
  Learning Center, and by arrangement elsewhere in the
  community.
          In addition to the unveiling of the plaque and the
  book presentation, the ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 2, will
  include remarks by Mayor Albert McGeehan, Hope College
  President John H. Jacobson, Nyenhuis and Bruins.  The
  college's Chapel Choir and a chamber orchestra will also
  perform.
          The princess's itinerary also includes a variety
  of activities on Friday, Oct. 3, among them the unveiling of
  the "Immigrants" sculpture in Kollen Park at 10:30 a.m., and
  a ceremony at the Howard Miller Community Center and Library
  in Zeeland at 3:30 p.m. with a celebration following at
  Zeeland's Van De Luyster Square at 4 p.m.
          Princess Margriet had previously visited Holland
  with her husband in September of 1972, as Holland marked its
  125th anniversary.  During the 1972 visit, she participated
  in the unveiling of a plaque installed in Dimnent Memorial
  Chapel in honor of Gerrit John Diekema, an 1881 Hope
  graduate who served as U.S. Minister to the Netherlands
  until his death in 1930.
          Other Dutch royals who have visited Holland and
  Hope have included Queen Beatrix and her husband Prince
  Claus in 1982, in observance of the Netherlands-American
  Bicentennial; Prince Bernhard, husband of Queen Juliana, in
  1965, for the dedication of Windmill Island and to mark
  Hope's 1966 Centennial; and Queen Juliana on two occasions--
  as queen in 1952, and as a princess in 1941, accompanied by
  her husband both times.