The Shaw Committee of the Friends of the Public Garden recently gathered at the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common to observe a project that began in September. The project is being conducted in response to a detailed report outlining the existing conditions and treatment recommendations for conservation of the stone elements of the Memorial. It is very important to comprehensively repoint all mortar joints to prevent water from entering the monument, and to remove biological growth from the stone.
Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial, located opposite the State House, is the most acclaimed piece of sculpture on the Common. Saint-Gaudens was the foremost American sculptor of his day. After accepting the Shaw Memorial commission in 1884, he took almost fourteen years to complete the job. The enormous bas-relief depicts the mounted Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union army. Colonel Shaw, together with many of his men, died at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863. The monument was finally unveiled on May 30, 1897, with ceremonies lasting most of the day. The military parade included some old soldiers who had left for war from that very spot.
In 1980, the Friends of the Public Garden raised $200,000 to restore and endow the Memorial, which had never been maintained and was in terrible condition. The Friends also established an endowment to ensure its regular care. It was rededicated on its centennial in 1997 with General Colin Powell in attendance.