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.
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.
Thanks to the Friends Sculpture Care Program, master stone conservator Ivan Myjer was recently on Boston Common to perform general maintenance on the Shaw Memorial. Ongoing regular upkeep involved repointing of the granite walls, marble balustrade and base. Several areas that experienced a loss of stone were rebuilt and stains on the stone caused by the environment were cleaned. Myjer also applied sealant around the base of the bronze relief to protect it from moisture getting behind the bronze and causing damage. While the Friends has overseen regular maintenance on the monument, it was observed that over time, water has seeped into cracks between the stones causing displacement in several places. A comprehensive assessment was done on this treasured piece of art and recommendations were made for restoration work.
The Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial by renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens is the most acclaimed piece of public sculpture in Boston, and one of the most significant pieces of sculpture in the country. 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. Names of all 54th Regiment soldiers are listed on the Boston Common side of the monument.
We hope you had a terrific summer and are ready for what is sure to be a spectacular fall. Thanks to all of you who joined us for our Summer Party and came out to support our treasured greenspaces!
The past few months have been a busy time as people flocked to our parks to take full advantage of these wonderful outdoor spaces. We also took full advantage of the favorable weather to care for trees, turf, and sculpture, and move forward with special projects. If you missed it, you may be interested to read the Boston Globe article, They get the gunk off Boston’s outdoor treasures. Yes, Friends, you are the “they” who make it possible for the “gunk” to come off!
This year’s harsh winter delayed our restoration work on the George Robert White Memorial fountain in the Garden, and construction is now slated to begin in spring of 2016. We are eager to bring the water back to this historic fountain and will keep you updated on timing.
We continue to advocate against overuse of our parks and use that damages them, in particular the Boston Common. This weekend (September 26 and 27), the Boston Freedom Rally (also known as Hempfest) will return to the Common. We heard your concerns loud and clear about the poor condition the Common was left in following this event in previous years, and your safety concerns while visiting this neighborhood park, especially with your families, during the event. Thanks to the over 50 of you who wrote letters of concern to Parks Commissioner Chris Cook. Please continue to send us your feedback, share it with the Commissioner, and report it to the Mayor’s hotline or through the City’s new 311 system, which also offers a smartphone app. Visit www.cityofboston.gov/311 to learn more.
We look forward to seeing all who can come to our annual Members Reception on October 7th at the Four Seasons Hotel where we have a wonderful presentation planned for you, “Digging In: Beyond the Roots of Urban Tree Care.” That evening we will also kick-off an online art auction featuring pieces made from Boston Common elm wood.
Again, thanks to all of you, whose support makes it possible for us to care for our wonderful parks.
Anne Brooke, Chair
Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director
Summer has begun which means the outdoor work of the Friends sculpture care program is in swing. Mr. Hale (pictured) in the Public Garden is one of eight pieces conservators are caring for this year as part of the Friends Sculpture Care Program. Another 10 pieces of public art are in the process of being cleaned and maintained. This work is not only necessary, it is also newsworthy. The Boston Globe recently ran a piece about the behind-the-scenes efforts involved in caring for these historic works of art in the article, “They get the gunk off Boston’s outdoor treasures.”
If the trees could speak to you, which we have been told happens on occasion, or sculptures could share what they see from their unique vantage points, what would they say? They would be thanking you for the gifts you have given to our greenspaces this year.
We don’t think the trees, turf, sculpture and many special spaces within the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall would mind if we thanked you on their behalf. Speaking on their behalf is part of our mission after all, a mission we are so grateful you share with us.
Thank you for caring for these treasured places. We know that you love them – you show it through your volunteerism, advocacy, stewardship, and financial support – and they love you for it. How do we know? A tree told us.
This holiday season, dear Friends, we wish you and yours joy and peace. We look forward to working together with you in 2015 to continue maintaining and enhancing these irreplaceable gems in our midst.
A monumental milestone recently took place on Boston Common courtesy of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. Cranes facilitated the re-install of four larger-than-life pieces of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. The four pieces represent Army, Navy, history, and peace. They were were removed 10 years ago for repair and were returned to their perch on Boston Common on May 29. Onlookers watched as they arrived by truck from Daedalus studio in Watertown where the restoration work was performed.
Designed by architect/sculptor Martin Milmore, the neoclassical Soldiers and Sailors Monument, on top of Flagstaff Hill, is a Civil War memorial in the form of a victory column. At its dedication in 1877, Generals McClellan and Hooker were among those attending, along with two Confederate officers. From colonial to modern times, the hill has been a favorite sledding place for children.
During the winter, several members of the Friends visited the sculptures at the Watertown studio to observe the work.
Restoration work will continue at Soldiers and Sailors into summer, including the replacement of pieces to four plaques at the base of the monument, as well as cleaning.