Sculpture & Memorials
The original design for the Mall did not include public art, but today there are nine sculptures and memorials between Arlington Street and Charlesgate East, adding to the Mall’s distinctive charm and character. All the works are oriented to the east, facing toward the Public Garden.
Arlington-Berkeley. The first statue appeared in 1865 on the newly made land between Arlington and Berkeley Streets. The granite likeness of Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) was the gift of Thomas Lee, who also donated the Ether Monument in the Public Garden. Sculpted by physician William Rimmer, the work is not highly regarded for its artistic skill. Hamilton was a Revolutionary War soldier, a signer of the Constitution, and the first secretary of the treasury, serving under Washington. He was killed in a famous duel with Aaron Burr in 1804. His likeness can be seen on the ten-dollar bill.
Berkeley-Clarendon. The 1875 bronze and granite sculpture of John Glover (1732-1797) was the work of Martin Milmore, who also designed the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Boston Common. General Glover led the Marblehead, Massachusetts, regiment of fishermen who distinguished themselves throughout the Revolutionary War. It was Glover’s regiment that saved Washington and his troops at the Battle of Long Island and, most famously, rowed Washington across the Delaware River through ice and snow.
Clarendon-Dartmouth. This block features two works of art. The bronze and granite memorial for Patrick Andrew Collins (1844-1905) was created by Henry Kitson and Theo Alice Kitson in 1908 and moved from Charlesgate West, displaced by construction of the Bowker Overpass, to this block of the Mall in 1966. An Irish immigrant, Collins rose to become mayor of Boston, serving from 1902 until his sudden death in 1905. Collins was such a popular mayor that funds were raised for this memorial only six days after his death. His bronze portrait bust rests on a granite base that is flanked by two allegorical figures representing his native land and his adopted country; the one with the lyre is Ireland. The memorial is an elliptical granite arc with a bronze casting of a helmet and coat resting on it.
The other memorial in this block, near Dartmouth Street, is the Vendome Firefighters’ Memorial sculpted by Theodore Clausen with Peter White, landscape architect. It honors the nine firefighters who died on June 17, 1972, when four floors of the Hotel Vendome collapsed after a raging fire. Dedicated in 1997, on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the fire, the memorial is an elliptical granite arc with a bronze casting of a helmet and coat resting on it. The former Hotel Vendome is located diagonally across the street.
Dartmouth-Exeter. The seated bronze statue of abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) was sculpted by Owen Levi Warner and dedicated in 1886. Known as “the emancipator,” Garrison came to Boston from Baltimore in 1831 and launched his anti-slavery publication The Liberator, which he continued to publish until the abolition of slavery in 1865. He was also the founder, in 1832, of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Hounded by angry mobs for his views, he was often in danger for his life. Garrison also supported the movements for women’s rights, temperance, pacifism, and free trade.
Exeter-Fairfield. The statue of Bostonian Samuel Eliot Morison (1887-1976) shows the maritime historian and avid sailor casually dressed and seated on a large granite rock. Morison was a Harvard professor and the foremost American maritime historian of the twentieth century. An expert sailor, he retraced one of the voyages of Columbus across the Atlantic using the original log books as a guide. In 1964 Morison was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the country’s highest civilian honor. His bronze figure was sculpted by well-known Boston artist Penelope Jencks and dedicated in 1982.
Fairfield-Gloucester. Dedicated in 2003, the Boston Women’s Memorial is the newest sculpture on the Mall, donated with funds raised by the Boston Women’s Commission. The effort began in 1992 when Mayor Thomas M. Menino reserved the Fairfield to Gloucester block as the site for a memorial honoring women. The commission worked for ten years to select the subjects, choose the artist, raise the money, and oversee construction and installation of the memorial. The bronze figures, by New York artist Meredith Bergmann, are at ground level, not on top of pedestals. The women are shown in casual poses, writing and thinking. The three women honored share a Boston connection, a place in national history, and a passion for social justice.
The three women honored share a Boston connection, a place in national history, and a passion for social justice. Abigail Adams (1744-1818) was the wife of the second president of the United States and mother of the sixth, whose letters established her as a strong voice for women’s advancement. Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784), a slave brought from Africa to Boston, became a literary prodigy whose poems were the first book published in America by an African writer. Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was an ardent abolitionist and suffragist, a renowned orator, and a leading figure in the struggle for women’s rights, inspiring Susan B. Anthony and others.
Gloucester-Hereford. The bronze, stiffly posed statue of Domingo F. Sarmiento (1811-1888) was signed by Yvette Compagnion and dedicated in 1973. Sarmiento, who served as president of Argentina, founded his country’s education system, modeling it on the one developed in Boston by Horace Mann. In appreciation, the Argentine government offered a statue as a gift to the City of Boston in 1913. The statue did not arrive until sixty years later, and finding a spot for it was problematic. The location on the Mall opposite the former International Institute was finally agreed upon.
Massachusetts Avenue-Charlesgate East. The monument to legendary Norse explorer Leif Eriksson (975-1020) commemorates the landing he is believed to have made somewhere along the New England coast, at a site given the name Vinland. Eben Horsford, the patent-medicine maker who donated the memorial in 1887, believed that Vinland was located on the Charles River. The explorer’s life-size bronze figure, sculpted by the eminent American artist Anne Whitney, originally overlooked the river, but that view has been replaced by roadways. The dragon’s head on the prow used to spout water, but the fountain is now dry.