Book Tells Story Of
Creation of Van Raalte Statue
Posted September 24, 1997
HOLLAND -- 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
"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
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
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
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
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.