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History of the Taras Shevchenko Monument, Taras Shevchenko Park  

Troy, NY (corner of 4th Street and Van Buren Street)

Taras Shevchenko has been called the founding father of Ukraine. To honor the great philosopher and poet, this monument represents the image of a great philosophical figure whose prominence never perishes.

During the 1986 “Uncle Sam Anniversary,” the idea of the Taras Shevchenko monument was suggested to Troy City Manager, Steven G. Dworsky, by Wasyl Bodnar, the Vice President of the Troy Branch of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America. On January 8, 1987 a resolution was introduced by Jack Berry in the Troy City Council naming the triangular area at the junction of Third and Fourth Streets “Taras H. Shevchenko Place.”  The resolution gave official approval to erect a monument to honor Taras H. Shevchenko, Ukraine’s most famous poet and spiritual leader. 


Shortly after the passage of the resolution, the Taras Shevchenko Committee was formed. The following people were elected or appointed to the Committee:


Rev. Wolodymyr Paszko, Pastor

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Troy, NY


Rev. Alexander Bobun-Kenez, Pastor

Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church, Troy, NY


Executive Committee:

Chairman: Wasyl Bodnar

Co-Chairmen: Christine Kolody-Chesley and Michael Susko

Treasurers: Michael Barna and Barbara Yacevich
Architecture and Design Sub Committee:  Rev. Wolodymyr Paszko, Michael Heretz, Wasyl Kutzer, Alvin Bryski

Program Sub-Committee: Wasyl Bodnar, Dmytro Chorvat, Walter Litynsky, Olenka Kutzer

Publicity Sub-Committee:  Ivan Durbak, Daria Spiak, Walter Litynsky

Troy was the cradle of Ukrainian organized community life for over one hundred years and, since 1988 Ukrainians everywhere observed the Millennium of Christianity, it was decided that the project be completed and unveiled in 1988.

On Sunday, March 15, 1987, a groundbreaking ceremony and a dedication of the Taras H. Shevchenko Place were conducted, followed by a short program. The dedication was attended by the Mayor and City Manager of Troy, other city leaders, all Ukrainian clergy from the area, and about 500 people. The festivities ended with a reception and a concert in the Ukrainian Hall in Troy.

The unveiling of the monument took place on June 5, 1988.  Along with many prominent city officials and clergy, taking part in the unveiling was Mykola D. Rudenko, a great poet, writer, intellectual, former chairman of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, and a longtime prisoner in the Soviet penal institutions. The day concluded with a banquet at the Italian Community Center in Troy, NY.  The bench that faces the monument was donated by Barbara Yacevich, in loving memory of her husband, Andy Yacevich, whose family were longtime members in the Troy Ukrainian community.  

St. Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Church Brotherhood of Watervliet, NY took over the ownership of the monument, including upkeep in 2011. The ownership was then passed to the Ukrainian-American Cultural Center (UACC) in Watervliet, NY in 2019. The UACC is currently responsible for the monument.

Taras Shevchenko Memorial Committee, 1998

In 2024, three Ukrainian Girl Scouts; Carlie P., Zenia K. and Zoryana P. focused their Girls Scout Silver award on the upkeep and upgrade of the Taras Shevchenko Monument. They cleaned the monument, including the surrounding park, organized a commemoration ceremony on March 10, 2024 at the monument, helped plan the annual concert in honor of Shevchenko along with the Capital District School of Ukrainian Studies and organized an art contest with the students of the school so they learn more about Taras Shevchenko. 

They wrote and designed this webpage and created and placed a QR code on the bench at the park directing people to this webpage so people could learn more about Taras Shevchenko and the history of the monument. The girls were also granted a Proclamation for their work from the Troy Mayor, Carmella Mantello.

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Taras Shevchenko, by Ivan Kramskoi, 1871

Who was Taras Shevchenko?

Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko is Ukraine’s most renowned poet who rose to prominence during the 19th century, playing a pivotal role in the Ukrainian national revival. Although he is most known for his poetry, he is also a highly accomplished artist.  
Taras Shevchenko was born into serfdom on March 9, 1814, in the village of Morintsy, Ukraine. As a young boy he served as a houseboy and servant. Early on, it was recognized that Shevchenko had a great talent for painting and poetry and in 1832 was sent to an apprenticeship with a master painter in St. Petersburg.  In 1838, one of Shevchenko’s paintings was sold and the money was used to buy his freedom from slavery. He was then accepted into the Imperial Academy of the Arts and received multiple awards for his paintings. He continued to write and his first collection of poems titled "Kobzar" (1840; meaning "The Bard"), reflected the folklore and history interests of the Ukrainian Romantics. However, his poetry evolved beyond mere nostalgia for Cossack life, delving into a more solemn depiction of Ukrainian history, notably seen in his epic poem "The Haidamaks" (1841). 
Shevchenko joined the secret political society called the Brotherhood of Saints Cyril and Methodius. They fought for freedom and equality of the Slavic people, education and abolishment of serfdom. In his poems “The Dream,” “The Caucasus,” and “The Epistle,”  he critiqued the oppression of Ukraine by Russia and foretold a revolution. In 1847, Shevchenko was arrested and forced into compulsory military service in exile for his writing. Despite being prohibited from writing or painting, Shevchenko secretly composed several lyrical poems, sketches and paintings during his years of imprisonment. 
Upon his release in 1857, he experienced a resurgence in creativity. His later poetry delved into both Ukrainian and universal historical and moral themes. Shevchenko’s desire to create was unwavering. Many of his works speak of the dreams of the peasants and how they would gain freedom through struggles against oppression and tyranny of the tsar.  Taras Shevchenko’s literary legacy, particularly his collection "Kobzar," is considered the cornerstone of modern Ukrainian literature.
Shevchenko died on March 10, 1861 at the age of 47 and was buried in St. Petersburg. In order to fulfill his wishes, Shevchenko’s body was moved and  laid to rest in Chernecha Hill (now Taras Hill) near the Dnipro River in Kaniv, Ukraine. His influence remains profound, with over 1300 monuments dedicated to him worldwide, including the largest one in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The prestigious Taras Shevchenko National University in Kyiv, Ukraine, bears his name and stands as a leading institution of higher learning, offering training across a wide range of academic disciplines.
Sources: The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2024, March 29). Taras Hryhorovych Shevchenko | Ukrainian artist, writer, ethnographer.
Encyclopedia Britannica.

Wikipedia contributors. (2024, April 1). Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. Wikipedia.

To learn more about Taras Shevchenko please visit

Taras Shevchenko, Self Portrait, 1840

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