307th INFANTRY REGIMENT MEMORIAL GROVE
Central Park, New York City
The 307th Infantry Regiment Memorial Grove is an area of Central Park located nearest the East 69th Street, and also near the larger East 72nd Street, entrances to the Park on Fifth Avenue. About a five-minute walk from either entrance, the Grove is slightly east of the Naumberg Bandshell and just south of the Rumsey Playfield (Summer Stage). It is surrounded by a paved walkway. Click here to view a diagram of the present Grove.
The Grove originally included at least 18 young oak trees planted by veterans of the 307th in a series of ceremonies in 1920-1922. Click here to view a history of some of those trees and ceremonies. Sixteen of these trees were dedicated to the memory of the WWI dead of each of the 16 companies or other units of the regiment. When the trees were small, they were protected by iron enclosures, each of which bore a brass plaque, in the shape of a shield, which identified the regimental company and its fallen members. Click here to view an archival photo of six young company trees with their enclosures and plaques.
Sometime later, those iron enclosures were removed and the plaques were placed on the sloping tops of small, white, concrete pedestals which were installed next to each of 14 of the company trees. One of these company pedestals and plaques honors the fallen of three of the companies or other units of the regiment (i.e., HQ Company, Supply Company and the Sanitary Detachment), and the other 13 company pedestals and plaques honor the fallen of each of its 13 other companies (i.e., Companies A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, K, L, M and Machine Gun). Today, a number of the original company trees, and some of the other original trees planted in the Grove, are missing.
Sometime in 1926-1928, a small, natural boulder monument,
with an inscription on the front and a bronze tablet on the rear,
was added to the collective monument.
here to view the 1926 permits for installation of the boulder
monument. The inscription on the front of the boulder
(facing the walkway along the southern edge of the Grove) reads: “TO
THE DEAD OF THE 307TH INFANTRY A ⋅ E ⋅ F,
509 OFFICERS AND MEN, 1917-1919". The bronze
tablet on the rear of the boulder listed the 16 companies or other
units of the 307th and the names of the members of each of them who
fell during WWI. As shown in the 1926 permit application,
the architect of this stage in the evolution of the Grove was W.
Kerr Rainsford, who later designed important buildings in New York.
Click here to read a summary of his
life and career.
As shown in the 1926 permit application, the architect of this stage in the evolution of the Grove was W. Kerr Rainsford, who later designed important buildings in New York. Click here to read a summary of his life and career.
In or about 1997, the original bronze tablet on the rear of the boulder was stolen by vandals. Fortunately, a similar tablet existed at the Headquarters of the 77th Regional Support Command in the Ernie Pyle USAR Center, Fort Totten, NY. In cooperation with the 307th Infantry Veterans Society, the 77th RSC arranged for a replacement bronze tablet to be installed on the boulder in 1998.
Sometime after the dedications of the 307th memorial trees and boulder in the Grove, another organization, the Knights of Pythias, inserted a partly hewn vertical stone east of the formation of 307th company trees and pedestals. This Knights of Pythias stone memorializes ten of their WWI dead, only one of whom served in the 307th. Although still located at the Grove, this Knights of Pythias stone is not part of the collective monument of company trees, plaques and pedestals, and the boulder, dedicated to the memory of the 307th Infantry Regiment.
Following both WWI and WWII, and continuing at least through the 1990s, veterans of the 307th held numerous memorial ceremonies in the Grove. Since 2006, the 77th Infantry Division Reserve Officers Association, in conjunction with the 307th Infantry Veterans Society, has held annual Commemoration Ceremonies in the Grove in June, to honor all serving and fallen members of the 307th and other units of the 77th Infantry Division and its successor commands. Articles and Photo Albums of some of these joint ceremonies can be viewed under the “News & Events” tab of this web site.
During a Commemoration Ceremony held on 9 June 2012, the 307th Infantry Veterans Society dedicated three brass plaques, honoring the fallen members of Companies C, H and M, which replaced three plaques that had been removed from their pedestals and stolen by vandals over the years. These three replacement plaques were commissioned by the Society to resemble the other surviving plaques (some of which appear themselves to be replacements of the originals) as closely as possible, and the names on them were based on extensive historical research. Click here to read about some historical sources. The program for this ceremony contained proof diagrams of these plaques, and a brief history of each of them. Click here to view the program for the ceremony on 9 June 2012.
After that ceremony in 2012, the Central Park Conservancy, which administers all of the Park for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, planted new grass and made numerous other needed improvements to the appearance of the Grove.
Ever since the end of WWII, in which the 307th Infantry Regiment fought with distinction in the Pacific Theater, the 307th Infantry Veterans Society has hoped to be able to complete the design of the Grove by installing a second natural boulder monument and bronze tablet, complementing the existing WWI monument, to honor the 713 members of the regiment who perished during WWII. Click here to view a 1948 photo of the Grove and WWII Honor Rolls of the 307th. The 77th Infantry Division Reserve Officers Association is attempting to help them achieve this goal.