Celebrating a fountain’s return in the Public Garden

On June 7th, the Friends celebrated the completion of our latest capital project, the restoration of the George Robert White Memorial fountain. Joined by many friends, including City Councilor Josh Zakim and Parks Commissioner Chris Cook, new Friends Board Chair Leslie Singleton Adam thanked the generous donors who made this restoration possible.

Special thanks to Weston & Sampson, Zen Associates, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Boston Parks and Recreation Department for their contributions to the fountain restoration and landscaping work, making this a beautiful corner of the Public Garden again.

Remembering Anne Brooke

In tribute to our wonderful late Board Chair, Anne Brooke, we also dedicated a beautiful Horsechestnut tree for her inspired leadership of the Friends and this special restoration project.

The Irish connection: Sculpture in our parks

March is famous in Boston for St. Patrick’s Day and the celebration of all things Irish.  The history of the Irish in Boston can be traced, in part, through public art on Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Patrick Collins Memorial 

Commonwealth Avenue Mall
 (Between Clarendon and Dartmouth Streets)

Patrick Collins was the second Irish-born mayor of Boston (1902-05). Born in County Cork, his family moved to South Boston when he was a child. He started in the trades as an upholsterer, became active in the trade union movement, entered politics and during his time in the state legislature he studied law at Harvard Law School.  Mayor Collins took office after a distinguished public career of four years in the State Legislature, six years as Congressman, and four years as United States Consul General in London appointed by  President Grover Cleveland.

In his first inaugural address, he said: “The chief trouble with commercial Boston is that it seeks to do all its best business in one square mile of land. The result is congestion, very high rents within that area, and somewhat ragged prospects beyond. More business centers of the first class…will make Boston a better and a greater city. For this purpose, I may be counted an expansionist of the most extreme type.”

He died suddenly while in office, and he was so popular that funds for his memorial were raised in just six days from thousands of small contributions given by the residents of Boston.

Continue reading “The Irish connection: Sculpture in our parks”

Behind the Scenes: Winter Park Work

These days our parks are quiet, often covered with a blanket of snow, the trees dormant and flowers having long disappeared…is the staff on vacation?  Not at all! The winter months are full of activity.  Friends Project Manager Bob Mulcahy, Collections Care Manager Sarah Hutt, and consulting arborist and soil scientist Normand Helie are hard at work planning for the year to come, and overseeing winter tree work.

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Norm and Bob diving deep into the tree inventory, checking and rechecking!

Sarah and Bob evaluate every piece of sculpture throughout the year, planning out the annual cycle of care and cleaning.  Together they prepare the budget, receive proposals from conservators, ready contracts for the proposed work, and notify Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Boston Arts Commission and Boston Landmarks Commission about upcoming annual maintenance.  Once the contracts are signed and paperwork filed, Bob and Sarah will work with the conservator contractors to schedule when the Women’s Memorial, among many, will get the TLC they need.

Continue reading “Behind the Scenes: Winter Park Work”

African America History Month: Sculpture in our Parks

February is African American History Month paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American Society. Within the three parks cared for by the Friends, there are two important sculptures memorializing Boston African Americans.

Boston Common is home to the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, a bas-relief masterpiece commemorating Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union Army.

Commonwealth Avenue Mall’s Boston Women’s Memorial honors Phillis Wheatley as one of three important women from Boston.  Phillis Wheatley was the first African American, the first slave, and the third woman in the United States to publish a book of poems.

Continue reading “African America History Month: Sculpture in our Parks”

Photos of the White Fountain Renovation

We’re thrilled to share pictures of the fountain renovation at the George Robert White Memorial in the Public Garden. And as of last week, water is flowing through the rams’ heads again. Many thanks to our generous supporters, without whom this project could not have been done.

Take a look at the project, starting with recent photos, all the way back to the beginning of the renovation in mid-September.

 

Successful 46th Annual Meeting

 

A record-breaking, standing room only crowd of almost 200 were welcomed to the 46th Annual Meeting of the Friends by board chair Anne Brooke and vice-chair Colin Zick.

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Attendees listened appreciatively to a powerful presentation by Liz Vizza, Executive Director, celebrating the Friends work in 2105 to continue the care and preservation of trees, sculpture, and turf in the three parks. Her remarks also highlighted the success in creating a dynamic park space at Brewer Plaza, continuing renovations of the Boylston Street border in the Garden, and the upcoming restoration of the fountain at the George Robert White Memorial.  Liz praised the hard work of the volunteer Rose Brigade and announced the creation of a new volunteer Border Brigade while reminding the attendees of the upcoming fun and engaging public programs, Duckling Day and Making History on the Common.  She shared that a Boston Common User Analysis survey will be taking place through the fall, providing real numbers about who, how and when people use the Common and what park users’ needs and issues are.

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Advocacy for the parks is crucial, the threats are real and involve public safety, proposed building development on Tremont Street that exceeds the zoned height limit and could set a dangerous precedent, as well as the need to increase funding for the Boston Parks Department.  Liz commended the Department’s hard work to keep the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Mall healthy and beautiful.

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The Annual Meeting served as the occasion to introduce the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment in honor of the Lees’ legacy of commitment to the parks and their sculpture. The fund’s mission will be to provide for the long-term care for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden, and Mall, the largest concentration of public art in the city. Regular annual maintenance prevents much more costly restoration.

In keeping with the sculpture theme, David Dearinger from the Boston Athenaeum gave a fascinating presentation about the Common, Garden, and Mall as “Museums Without Walls” and the history of the sculpture in the three parks.  Reminding the attendees about the legacy of outdoor art, Dr. Dearinger shared the little-known history of some of the important pieces of sculpture.

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The evening concluded with a reception where longstanding and new Friends enjoyed the opportunity to meet.

Photos: Michael Dwyer

 

Introducing the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment

At the 46th Friends of the Public Garden Annual Meeting on April 13, Chair, Anne Brooke will announce the creation of the Henry and Joan Lee Sculpture Endowment in honor of the Lees’ legacy of commitment to the parks and their sculpture. The fund’s mission will be to provide for the long-term care for 42 pieces of public art in the Common, Garden and Mall, the largest concentration of public art in the city. Regular annual maintenance prevents much more costly restoration.  William Lloyd Garrison should never be green again.

David Dearinger, Curator of Paintings and Sculpture at The Boston Athenaeum will be giving a presentation “Museums Without Walls: The Sculpture Collection of the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall .”  The Annual Meeting is Wednesday, April 13 at 5:00 p.m. at First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough Street.  Reception to follow.  Kindly RSVP by April 6. 617-723-8144 or info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.