By David Luces
Smithtown’s iconic Whisper the Bull, a 5-foot-tall statue located at the intersection of Route 25 and Route 25A in Smithtown, narrowly avoided damage in a single-car accident Dec. 24.
On Christmas Eve, a driver veered off road near the intersection into the green space, colliding into the base wall. The unidentified driver was transported to the hospital with critical injuries, according to town officials.
The bronze statue avoided any major damage and the base wall and the area around the monument sustained minor damage, according to Smithtown spokeswoman Nicole Garguilo.
“Thankfully there was no damage to the statue or its base,” Garguilo said. “The concrete around the landscape wall, a Christmas sign as well as a wooden menorah were the only things damaged.”
The iconic statue was recently ruled eligible for landmark status on the New York State and National Register of Historic Places run by New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The monument commemorates the legend of the town’s origins that claims founder Richard Smythe rode a bull to establish the town’s boundaries.
Smithtown resident Corey Geske appealed to Smithtown town officials in December to sign off on a formal application for the registry as the official owners of the monument.
Geske said she was relieved to hear the statue and the surrounding area avoided serious damage, though suggested it would good to keep an eye on it and to get experts to look at it.
“The base [of the statue] seems to have been saved,” Geske said. “The brick landscape wall surrounding the statue looks to have kept it from any damage.”
There were already plans in place to repair the base of the statue prior to the accident, according to Garguilo. These repairs included fixing a visible crack along “Smithtown” in the inscription and can be seen running from front to back of the platform as well as additional landscaping.
“This is part of the legacy of the community and the town. It would be a shame if it was lost for future generations.”
— Corey Geske
Garguilo said after the incident the town will try to speed up the planned renovations to the statue’s base.
Since 2017, Geske has been working on a three-part plan for the revitalization of downtown Smithtown, which includes preservation of the statue as part of a proposed historic corridor.
One of the criteria the state park’s department will consider when evaluating the monument for placement on the state Register of Historic Places includes its “artistic value” and current condition, according to the state’s website. Repairing the crack in the statue’s base will not have any impact on Whisper’s eligibility, according to Garguilo, but any damage to the statue itself could have negatively affected its ability to qualify for landmark status.
“This is part of the legacy of the community and the town,” Geske said. “It would be a shame if it was lost for future generations.”