When the Angel of Peace statue returns to East Rock this fall, it will feature a new stabilizing stainless steel armature and a fresh coating of light green induced corrosion. But what is expected to gather the most attention is a time capsule filled with objects chosen by the citizens of New Haven as a reminder to future residents of the Elm City.
The city is soliciting ideas from the public for what to include in the time capsule, which will accompany the 119-year-old statue when it resumes its perch atop the New Haven Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument. As part of the restoration, New Haven residents have also been invited to submit their wishes for the world, which may or may not be included in the capsule.
The idea for the time capsule was sparked by the discovery of a century-old shoe lodged inside an arm cavity of the 5,000-pound bronze sculpture, said Catherine Sullivan-DeCarlo, a spokeswoman for New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr.
Some New Haven officials said they believe the shoe is an example of a “concealment shoe,” a superstitious practice popular in the northern United States at the time the statue was created, in 1887. The superstition, which originated in 14th century western Europe, involved the placement of well-worn shoes in buildings under construction to ward off evil spirits.
Before the shoe was discovered, the city launched a campaign to gather wishes for the world from the public and display them on the city’s Web site. So far, the city has received about 25 messages that range from requests for peace to remembrances of relatives who died in action.
“Our wish for peace on earth starts with believing that it is possible and noticing the many ways that it already exists among us,” read a submission from New Haven residents Marvin and Carol Warshaw.
Marvin Warshaw said he and his wife appreciated the opportunity to reach out to their community with a message of peace.
“The fact that there is this war on terrorism is definitely taking its toll,” he said. “I think you can create peace by setting an example, and I think that’s really missing.”
Barbara Ginger, who also submitted a message to the site, said positive events are rarely publicized in today’s world.
“It’s like we’re not showing anything good anymore — just things about kids being shot and people being robbed,” she said. “Out of all the bad things that are going on in New Haven right now, it’s nice to hear something good.”
A few of the submissions were not exactly in keeping with the theme of goodwill, Sullivan-DeCarlo said.
“One man said that his wish for the Angel of Peace was that the city would stop towing his car,” she said. “We ended up getting back to him and talking about his towing problem.”
But overall, she said, the mayor’s office has been pleased by the responses.
“I’ve been very touched by a lot of the wishes,” Sullivan-DeCarlo said.
Sullivan-DeCarlo said the city has not yet decided what will go in the time capsule, apart from the shoe, or what form the capsule will take.
The renovations on the statue are currently being completed on the New Haven Green, offering visitors and New Haven residents the opportunity to see the statue up close.
Several descendents of the original planners of the monument have visited the statue on the Green, said Francis Miller, the sculpture conservator contracted by the city to work on the project. One woman brought by a photo of her great-grandmother dressed up for the parade celebrating the unveiling of the monument, he said.
“The community has been just fantastic,” Miller said Tuesday as he walked around the statue, the base of which was being corroded to a light green color. “They just love this sculpture, and it’s really a beacon for the whole area.”
The renovations — which have included welding cracks on the base and repairing casting flaws throughout the sculpture — should be finished within the next week, Miller said. But the sculpture will not be taken back to East Rock until the stonework on the monument itself is completed, which should be in late October or early November.
While residents have enjoyed seeing the statue at eye level, Miller said, many have told him they are eager for it to reclaim its place on top of the monument.
“People are hoping that she goes back soon,” Miller said. “They miss her up there.”