The Ether Monument is the oldest monument in the Boston Public Garden, installed in 1868. This forty-foot-tall monument commemorates a medical breakthrough: the use of ether as an anesthetic, a pivotal moment in medical history. The first public demonstration of ether anesthesia was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 by Boston dentist William Thomas Green Morton and Doctor John Collins Warren. Morton administered the ether, and Warren then removed a tumor from an unconscious patient. Atop the Ether monument, two figures sculpted by John Quincy Adams Ward enact a famous Biblical story about the relief of suffering: the Good Samaritan caring for an injured stranger he met on the road.
The Friends of the Public Garden (the Friends) led the most dramatic restoration of the Ether Monument and Fountain in 2006. Contributions were received from the anesthesiology community, local foundations, and the city. The marble and granite monument was restored, the fountain electrical system, motor, and plumbing were completely upgraded and lighting was added.
The Endowment for the Ether Monument
The Friends is currently seeking to raise $100,000 to boost the existing Ether Monument endowment to the appropriate level to ensure the long-term care of this important monument.
Outdoor monuments need to be vigilantly maintained to prevent deterioration caused by weather, pollution, tree debris, bird waste, and vandalism. Regular annual maintenance provided by the Friends to the Ether Monument includes cleaning the stonework and visits by the plumber to the fountain every other week during the warm weather to clean out debris, check the mechanical systems, and keep it in good working order. In 2018, in addition to the regular maintenance, the Friends will be providing the Ether monument and fountain with special care. The monument will be thoroughly cleaned by a combination of handwashing and power washing to remove urban grime and biological growth and the granite will be repointed with sealant to protect the seams that have contact with the water. This special intensive conservation work is done on the monument every three years to protect it and prevent future costly restoration. The current endowment is not large enough to provide for this level of ongoing care. An additional $100,000 would bring the endowment to the appropriate amount.
Help Care for the Ether Monument
The Friends welcomes contributions for the Ether Endowment of any size from individuals and institutions who wish to help care for this unique, historic monument and preserve the heritage of the anesthesiology community. You may choose to make a gift in honor of a new anesthesiologist or in memory of one who has passed. The Friends will inform the appropriate person of/about your thoughtful gift.
Contributions are 100% tax-deductible to the extent provided by law and will be designated specifically for the future care of the Ether Monument. Checks made payable to the Friends of the Public Garden can be mailed to Friends of the Public Garden, 69 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108.