Leo Friedlander Studio
Nestled in a residential neighborhood in the Town of Greenburgh is an unusual home made of stucco-covered concrete block. Unique among the buildings in the neighborhood, this house was actually constructed by Riccardo Bertelli in 1908 as a home and studio for sculptor Henry Merwin Shrady. Bertelli was the founder of Roman Bronze Works, one of the most prominent sculpture foundries in the United States. The building was later occupied by two other sculptors, Karl Illava and Leo Friedlander. As Friedlander owned the building the longest among the three sculptors, the structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places under the name Leo Friedlander Studio.
Backstory and Context
The building at 825 Hartsdale Road was built by Riccardo Bertelli in 1908 to serve as an sculptor's home and studio. Bertelli was the founder of Roman Bronze works, a sculpture foundry in Brooklyn that he established in 1897. The dwelling on Hartsdale Road was first occupied by Henry Merwin Shrady (1871-1922). Before Shrady settled in the home, he had completed a sculpture, George Washington at Valley Forge, which is part of the Continental Army Plaza in Brooklyn. Shrady and architect Edward Pearce Casey had won the competition to design his most well-known sculpture an equestrian sculpture of Ulysses S. Grant that is part of the latter's memorial on the grounds of the United States Capitol. This project was not completed until shortly after Shrady's death.
Sculptor Karl Ilava (1889-1954) acquired the home at 825 Hartsdale Road from Henry Merwin Shrady's widow, Harrie Moore Shrady, in 1925. Illava, a veteran of World War I, sculpted his best-known work, the 107th Infantry Memorial, while residing in Greenburgh. Located in Central Park in Manhattan at Fifth Avenue and 66th Street, this monument was dedicated in 1927, nine years to the day when the regiment broke through the Hindenburg Line at the Battle of St. Quentin Canal.
Karl Illava sold the home on Hartsdale Road in 1931. Four years later the building was acquired by a third sculptor, Leo Friedlander (1888-1966). Friedlander had already completed several works by the time he settled in Greenburgh, including the central pediment at the Museum of the City of New York and sculptural panels at the Oregon State Capitol. As his new home had been vacant for some time, Friedlander made renovations to the structure, including the reinforcement of the floor to provide additional support for the large-scale figures that he sculpted. By the time the work was completed, the floor was able to support 1,000 pounds per square foot. During Friedlander's ownership of 825 Hartsdale Road, he completed what is perhaps his best-known work, The Arts of War. Commissioned in 1929 but not erected until 1951, the sculpture is located on the Washington, D.C. side of the Arlington Memorial Bridge.
Leo Friedlander died in 1966, and his home and studio remained in his family until it was sold by his son, Gordon, in 1996. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
O'Brien, Austin N. National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form: Leo Friedlander Studio. March 5, 1982.
Raftery, Patrick. "Memorializing the 'Splendid Little War' in Port Chester. The Westchester Historian, Volume 92, Number 2 (Summer 2017), 72-96. https://westchesterhistory.com/library/best-of-the-historian/
Williams, Gray. Picturing Our Past. Elmsford, N.Y.. Westchester County Historical Society, 2003.
Westchester County Historical Society. Photo by Gray Williams.