PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Mount Rushmore may be some 1,700 miles away from the Tri-State Area, but its chief carver was a resident of Westchester County.
As WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported, a stone monument and bronze bas relief on North Region Street in Port Chester will let future generations to know the connection between the village and Mount Rushmore, in the form of Luigi del Bianco.
Del Bianco’s hands shaped George Washington’s stoic mouth, Thomas Jefferson’s piercing eyes, Theodore Roosevelt’s distinctive chin, and Abraham Lincoln’s sturdy jaw.
“He was the only master carver on the work, and his job was in refinement of expression – basically, bringing the faces to life,” said del Bianco’s grandson, Lou del Bianco.
Luigi del Bianco was born on a ship near La Havre, France in 1892, as his parents returned from to Italy from the United States. His father sent him to Austria to study stonecarving at the age of 11, and headed to America at the age of 17 in response to a call from cousins that stonecarvers were needed in Barre, Vermont.
Mount Rushmore designer Gutzon Borglum hired Luigi del Bianco to be the chief stonecarver for Mount Rushmore in South Dakota in 1933. He was paid $1.50 an hour – a handsome sum for the Great Depression – according to a historical website.
And while his name is not etched in history books, Luigi del Bianco gave form and likeness to the fine facial features of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.
“In terms of giving soul and feeling to the eyes, nose and mouth and making them seem real — especially when the mouth is 18 feet wide and the nose is 21 feet long, and the face is 60 feet high – that’s something that people like ourselves can just look up in awe and say, ‘Wow, that’s amazing,’” Lou del Bianco said.
Lou del Bianco said is grandfather was modest, and he never spoke of the years sculpting the national treasure, except in a 1966 newspaper article.
“Working on the face of Lincoln, working on the eyes – and how if he had to do it all again, even with all the hardships involved, he would do it without pay because it was such a great privilege granted to him,” Lou del Bianco said. “I mean, here’s an Italian immigrant who has a dream to come to America to carve something special, and he achieves that dream.”
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