The Shriners’ Peace Memorial is located in the beautiful rose garden, just south of the Bandshell. It consists of a bronze monument set on a circular stone base. A winged figure, the Goddess of Peace, stands with her arms upraised and holds aloft two olive branches.
The figure is elevated on a globe of the world which is supported by two sphinxes and marked by a commemorative plaque. The monument was created by Charles Keck, an American sculptor, in 1930.
The Shriners' Peace Memorial was dedicated in June 1930 during a convention of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (Shriners) to commemorate nearly a century of peaceful relations between Canada and the United States. The monument is located on the site where it was believed American troops landed during the War of 1812. The monument is surrounded by a fountain that was added in 1958.
A committee of the Shriner leadership commissioned Charles Keck to be the sculptor. He was a New Yorker and a fairly-well-known monumental artist. Keck, a Shriner himself from the Brooklyn's Kismet Temple, had designed a number of public sculptures, coins, medals, and plaques in the 1920s and 1930s, including the friezes on the Bronx New York county building, and the Liberty Statue in Rio de Janeiro. His design for the peace monument took the form of an angel, positioned to face the Niagara River, with arms raised bearing olive branches.
Charles Keck was born in New York in 1875. He studied at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League of New York. Keck also attended the American Academy in Rome. In 1921 he was elected into the National Academy of Design as an Associate member and became a full Academician in 1928. As a member of the National Sculpture Society, he was part of a movement of conservative American artists, many of whom worked in the French Beaux Arts style.
In a long and active career, Keck produced many sculptures and architectural reliefs, now on view from New York to Argentina. Working out of a New York City studio, he created several heroic statues of Abraham Lincoln; an equestrian statue of Stonewall Jackson now in Charlottesville, Virginia; and various busts and statues of politicians, generals, and other notable individuals.
His Lewis and Clark group, also in Charlottesville, is considered one of his greatest monuments. The National Statuary Hall Collection in the U. S. Capitol contains his bust of Harry S. Truman, Keck's full-length statues of North Carolina's Charles B. Aycock and Louisiana's Huey P. Long.
Charles Keck passed away in 1951.
Photo of Charles Keck in 1945 in his studio working on a bust of Charles Jr.
Taken by photographer Dorothy Gale