BREWER FOUNTAIN PLAZA AND PARKLAND: A BOSTON COMMON RENEWAL
A century and a half ago, a Bostonian named Gardener Brewer traveled to Europe to see the Exposition Universal de Paris. While there, he saw and fell in love with a remarkable work of art created by two French sculptors, Mathurin Moreau and Alexandre Lambert. It was an exuberant fountain with water gods and goddesses, spouting dolphins, and terraced basins dropping water onto the figures below. Displayed at the center of the Grand Hall, the fountain celebrated the power of water and the creation of a modern municipal water system in Paris. Brewer believed that Boston, too, had much to celebrate at mid-century. He had the fountain cast in bronze directly from the original and shipped to Boston in 1868 where it was erected on the Boston Common near his Beacon Street home. The fountain remained here until around 1917, when it was moved to its present location closer to Tremont Street.
PUBLIC/PRIVATE BREWER PARTNERSHIP
By 2007, the Brewer Fountain and its surroundings were in woeful need of repair and renewal. Sited at the foot of the hill from the State House, next to the Freedom Trail and Park Street subway station, the fountain and plaza are viewed by millions of pedestrians each year.
A public/private Brewer Partnership came together in 2008 to create a compelling vision that would transform the area into one of the most memorable outdoor places in Boston. In 2010, the City took the lead in restoring the fountain, with support from the Friends and the federal Save America’s Treasures program. With the support and partnership of the City, the Friends and the Lawrence and Lillian Solomon Fund expanded the scope of the project to undertake a historically sensitive renovation of the entire Plaza and surrounding parkland.
Completed in three phases, the $4.4 million project expanded green space and redesigned Brewer Plaza including:
- special granite paving, new curbing, benches, trees, turf, irrigation, path repaving and drainage system improvements from Lafayette Mall along Tremont Street up Liberty Mall toward the State House;
- Brewer Plaza activation with movable cafe tables and chairs, umbrellas, food trucks, a “reading room”, and a portable piano for lunchtime jazz;
- Lafayette Mall scale along Tremont Street reduced to 20 feet in width with a curbed greenspace along the street edge of the mall, and the historic fence along Tremont Street restored;
- new trees, turf and curbing realigned to create a stronger gateway experience from Park Street into the Plaza.
Today, the plaza is a popular destination for residents and tourists wanting to meet for lunch or rest awhile, away from the busy streets of Boston. Revitalizing this park area has positively impacted the thousands of people who move through this space every day, who now enjoy the new setting for the fountain, the trees and benches, seasonal tables, chairs and umbrellas, and the very popular food trucks.
Thank you to the generous donors who made this project possible: The Solomon Foundation, Sager Family Traveling Foundation & Roadshow, Amelia Peabody Charitable Fund, The Lynch Foundation, Greg and Dina Selkoe, Muriel and Norman Leventhal Foundation, Beacon Hill Garden Club, and many more.
Brewer Fountain Plaza Revitalization Images
“I have been working at Downtown Crossing for five years, and this year I found my lunch hour and quality of life greatly improved by the new space around the fountain…It is amazing how such (seemingly) small changes can make a huge difference in people’s lives. Thank you!”