During the spring of 2004 a life-sized, bronze statue of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, weighting approximately 400 pounds, arrived here and was temporarily installed in the garden of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland. The monument was created by renown sculptor Jessie Corsaut at the Monterey Sculpture Center in California. The work was commissioned and donated by Harry E. Blythe III, a well known philanthropist, who is dedicated to the preservation of Paderewski's legacy. Mr. Blythe owns the San Ignacio Estate located in Paso Robles, California- a property which was formerly owned by Paderewski.
Paderewski was born on November 18, 1860 in the village of Kurylowka, Podolia, in Russian partitioned-Poland. He died in New York City on June 29, 1941 while pleading Poland's cause yet once again as World War II raged, with it's unspeakable horrors causing Poland to be bled white before it ended in 1945. In addition to being one of the world's supreme and most famous concert pianist for over 50 years, Paderewski was also a highly accomplished politician and amazingly successful statesman. On November 11, 1918, with the end of WW I, Poland was resurrected as a free and independent country after having been partitioned out of existence by Austria-Hungry, Germany and Russia for the past 123 years. At the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which formally concluded WW I, Paderewski and a very forceful U.S. President Woodrow Wilson were able to reestablish the borders of Poland with the signing and ratification of the Treaty of Versailles. Shortly thereafter Paderewski became Poland's Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
After his death Paderewski was interred in Washington's Arlington National Cemetery to await the day when he could be returned to a free, independent and democratic Poland. That happy day finally arrived on June 27, 1992 when his remains, with full state and military honors, began their journey home. In Poland, Paderewski was received as the national hero and true patriot that he was. His countrymen honored him with a full state funeral and laid him to his final rest in the catacombs of historic St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw.
But Ignacy Jan Paderewski is also still with us here in America. His heart is enshrined at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church and National Shrine located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Earlier on, Paderewski had penned in his memoirs-- "America, the country of my heart, my second home." And so it is.
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