English translation of the headline: “Goethe returns to life” [Pedestal that held the bust of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the Highland Bowl, photo: David Kramer 2/11/21]
As seen in Sadly, there will be no “Happy Ending” in Highland Park this time, about five and a half years ago Rochestarians heard the distressing news that the bronze bust of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in the Highland Bowl was stolen and almost certainly melted down and sold.For those who amble in Highland Park, the vandalization of the statue overlooking the bowl stage was a viscerally felt loss.
Hence, I was thrilled to learn a sculptor has been identified to recreate the iconic memorial and a foundry found to cast it: Goethe kehrt zum Leben zurück [Goethe returns to life]
The letter writers Max Schaibel and Roger Ehrich hope to place the replica monument in a more secure and visible setting, preferably at the Greater Rochester International Airport in an installation educating visitors on the rich legacy of German Americans in Rochester.
While the idea of an airport installation is appealing, my personal preference is to keep the monument in the bowl. The bust added ambience and charm to its communal setting. Given that Goethe was a dramatist, the placement of the statue near the theater stage is fitting. In 1956 and 1960, the opera Faust — based on Goethe’s tragic play — was performed: the bronzed Goethe peering at the production.
Last year, the Frederick Douglass Monument was moved from inside the bowl to Robinson Drive at a high profile setting including benches. Perhaps something similar could be done with Goethe who could look down admiringly at the plays of Shakespeare that grace the stage every summer.
I wonder if the Goethe monument might find a home at or near the Historic German House on Gregory Street in the South Wedge, almost a stone’s throw from the Highland Bowl. If feasible, that location would amplify the contributions of German-American Rochestarians.On that 2016 day when Audrey hammed it up at the Goethe monument, she also posed next to the George Eastman monument on the University of Rochester’s River Campus.
Unbeknownst to us, William E. Ehrich designed both the Goethe and the Eastman statues. For more, see William Ernst Ehrich