Restoration of the George Robert White Memorial Fountain in the Public Garden
The History of the Memorial
The George Robert White Memorial, locally referred to as The Angel, is for many residents and visitors a beloved symbol of the Boston Public Garden. Situated in the northwest corner of the Garden, the memorial space is a draw for quiet contemplation and a delightful discovery for park visitors who encounter the graceful and engaging angel figure for the first time.
George Robert White (1847-1922) was a citizen of Boston for most of his life. White earned a fortune in the pharmaceuticals business and made significant contributions to a variety of Boston institutions. Upon his death in 1922, he bequeathed an endowment of over $5 million to the City of Boston to finance “works of public beauty and utility” throughout the City. The fund was named The George Robert White Fund. White’s sole request was to have $50,000 of the funds set aside for the creation of a memorial in his memory. Well-known sculptor, Daniel Chester French, was commissioned to create this memorial in the Garden to the noted Boston philanthropist, which was completed and dedicated in 1924.
The fountain was discontinued in the 1980’s due to a number of issues and has been inactive ever since. Recently some neighbors approached the Friends and offered to help recruit other neighbors to raise the funds needed to restore the fountain. In response to this expression of interest, the Friends hired expert consultants to estimate the scope of work needed to bring the fountain back to life.
There were multiple areas of work required for the restoration: plumbing, electrical, construction, and stone basin repair. A team of specialists in each of these fields was enlisted to participate in this project. It was estimated that the work required would cost approximately $400,000. To insure the sustainability of the fountain, the Friends would raise money for a future maintenance fund of $300,000 to support the ongoing care of the fountain, bringing the entire project total to $700,000.
The Fountain Today
The fountain restoration work began August 15, 2016 and was successfully completed in November, 2016. In partnership with the Parks Department, fountain restoration work progressed steadily throughout the fall months. The basin of the fountain was restored with a historically accurate pebble surface, plumbing elements were replaced so water in the fountain will recirculate as required by current state plumbing code, and now the water once again flows from French’s ram’s head cornucopias. The Angel can now cast her bread upon actual waters once again.
In addition, the transformation includes the following work to be completed during the winter and spring months of 2017: accessible pathway, benches, stair railings, and landscape plantings.
Grand Opening and Tree Dedication at the George Robert White Memorial Fountain
On Wednesday, June 7, 2017, we celebrated the completion of this project, which was only made possible thanks to generous community support. We also dedicated a beautiful Red Horsechestnut tree in memory of Anne Brooke, the Friends late Board chair who we celebrate for her inspired leadership of the Friends and this special restoration project.
For More Information
To donate to the ongoing maintenance of the George Robert White Memorial Fountain, click here to contribute online, or if you wish to donate via check (made out to FOPG), send to:
Friends of the Public Garden
69 Beacon Street, Boston MA 02108
Please contact Mary Halpin at the Friends at (857) 239-8937 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.