Doctorow Statue Coming to New Rochelle

The syncopated sounds of ragtime music will be heard in New Rochelle this fall as the city celebrates a new piece of public art designed to honor the memory of one of its best-known authors: A new bronze statue of E.L. Doctorow will be installed in mid-October at Huguenot Park, echoing the bronze statue of Huguenot settle Jacob Leisler that has stood at the base of Broadview Avenue since 1913.

The effort to honor author E. L. Doctorow, one of the most important novelists of the 20th century — and a man who made his home in New Rochelle for many years – began when he passed away in 2015. New Rochelle had played an important part in Mr. Doctorow’s work, inspiring his novel Ragtime; he was also a beloved local resident, and Mayor Noam Bramson says he received many calls from citizens asking the city to find a way to honor the author.

So Mayor Bramson appointed a committee  — including members of the New Rochelle Council on the Arts (Theresa Kump Leghorn and Billie Tucker)  and the New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence (Steve Silverman and Stephanie Tomei), along with City Historian Barbara Davis and Mrs. Helen Doctorow  — to consider how best to honor his memory. The committee proposed the three-part Doctorow Legacy Initiative, which included a Heritage Award designation for the Doctorow’s former home, programming in the public schools and a piece of public art to be placed at Huguenot Park. The site was selected because it is at the geographical center of New Rochelle and near the Broadview Avenue home that inspired his award-winning novel, as well as the Jacob Leisler statue that makes an appearance in the book. (Ragtime also became a film and a Tony Award winning Broadway musical.)

The statue is the result of years of work by the Doctorow Legacy Initiative committee: After issuing an international RFP, and receiving proposals from as far away as Turkey and Spain, the committee ultimately selected sculptor Derek Chalfant for the task. The new public art was funded through generous donations from Mr. Doctorow’s literary agent, publishing house, and family friends, as well as a $125,000 New York State grant secured by Assembly Member Amy Paulin.

The statue will be dedicated on Sunday, October 22nd during this year’s ArtsFest (taking place October 19th through 22nd). The day will start with City Historian Barbara Davis leading a historic trolley tour of the North End of New Rochelle (there will be three free 30-minute tours starting at 10 am), followed by a dedication event at 12 noon which will feature a performance by students from New Rochelle High School. A Ragtime Jazz Brunch fundraiser will follow at 12:30 pm at Wykagyl Country Club, where members of the Doctorow family and sculptor Derek Chalfant will be entertained by renowned pianist Adam Kent playing ragtime favorites and dancers performing popular dances of the period. Tickets for the fundraiser are priced at $125 and $250 and are available at

For more information visit the NRCA website at

“E.L. Doctorow was a true American treasure and undoubtedly one of the most admired residents in New Rochelle’s history,” observed New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. “I look forward to acknowledging Ed’s remarkable life and accomplishments through a permanent installation, and I express my gratitude to the artists and community leaders who have spearheaded this important initiative.”

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts (NRCA), a 501 ©3 organization established in 1975, is the lead agency for this project; with NRCA acting as the fiscal agent, donors’ contributions are tax deductible. To make a tax deductible contribution with a credit card donors can visit or mail a check (with Doctorow Legacy written on the notes line) to NRCA, P.O. Box 72,  New Rochelle, NY 10804.

About E.L. Doctorow

Edgar Lawrence “E. L.” Doctorow (Jan. 6, 1931 – July 21, 2015) was an author, editor, and professor, known internationally for his works of historical fiction, including Loon Lake, The Waterworks, The Book of Daniel, Welcome to Hard Times, The March and Ragtime (named one of the 100 Best Books of the 20th Century). Described as one of the most important American novelists of the 20th century, E.L. Doctorow was the recipient of numerous writing awards,  including three National Book Critics Circle Awards (for Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, and The March), and the American Academy of Arts and Letter Gold Medal for Fiction. President Barack Obama called him “one of America’s greatest novelists.”

About Derek Chalfant

Derek Chalfant is an Associate Professor of Art at Elmira College, located in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Born in Danville, Indiana, Chalfant earned received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Herron School of Art at Indiana University- Purdue University at Indianapolis and a Master of Fine Arts from The University of Notre Dame. He has been teaching Art and Art History at Elmira College since 2003. His courses include contemporary art history, metal casting, furniture design, and all levels of sculpture. He also supports the arts by jurying regional art exhibitions and performing pro bono work. He exhibits his sculpture and furniture nationally and is continually being commissioned to design and make artwork. His research includes designing and making sculpture and furniture specializing in wood and metal fabrication, as well as casting metal and glass.

About Barbara Davis

Barbara Davis is the Co-Director of the Westchester County Historical Society. Founded in 1874 as a member-based, not-for-profit organization, the Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, protect and promote the knowledge and understanding of Westchester’s long and remarkable history. From 2004 through 2020, Barbara was the Community Relations Coordinator for the New Rochelle Public Library and has served as New Rochelle’s City Historian since 2001.  She has been a member of numerous boards and committees in New Rochelle and has served on the Westchester County Historic Preservation Advisory Committee since 1993. Barbara has been a resident of New Rochelle for over 40 years.

About the New Rochelle Council on the Arts

The NRCA was created by the New Rochelle City Council in 1975 to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts. For nearly five decades NRCA has worked to fulfill that mission by sponsoring art exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series. In addition, NRCA has sponsored public art — like the popular NRNY Murals downtown — and created the Summer Sounds Concert Series and ArtsFest, while helping to build relationships between the arts, the business community and city government. For more about NRCA visit the website NRCA’s programs are made possible, in part, by ArtsWestchester with funds from Westchester County Government, the City of New Rochelle, and the support of community donations.

About The New Rochelle Fund for Education Excellence

The New Rochelle Fund for Educational Excellence (NREDFund),  a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization established in 1996, was forged to enhance the New Rochelle tradition of excellence in education. NREDFund supports the New Rochelle school system and its extraordinary, diverse student body through advancing equity, excellence and inspiring all public school students.

About New Rochelle Council on the Arts

The New Rochelle Council on the Arts mission is to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and the public\’s interest and participation therein. It has been exemplified by our sponsorship of a vast number of exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series. To create opportunities for the public to encounter and explore art and increase access to the arts in New Rochelle.

NRCA has been in existence for nearly 40 years — it was created by a resolution adopted by the New Rochelle City Council on April 8, 1975. Our mission is to stimulate and encourage the study and presentation of the performing and fine arts and the public’s interest and participation therein. This is exemplified by our sponsorship of a vast number of exhibitions, theatrical productions, dance recitals, film screenings, lectures, and concert series.