Commonwealth Avenue Mall is a grand allée of shade trees forming the central axis of the Back Bay, connecting the Public Garden to the Back Bay Fens. Designed by Arthur Gilman, who was inspired by the new Parisian boulevards, the Mall was set out from 1858 to the 1870s under the Back Bay Development Plan. From its inception, the Mall has been a vital amenity for both residents and visitors. Winston Churchill praised it as “the grandest boulevard in North America.”

Originally planted with American and European elm trees, the Mall today is a mixture of hardy large-scale shade trees. Even though the statues were not part of Gilman’s plan for the long, uninterrupted allée of trees, they have become a focal point for people’s enjoyment. Today, the trees, statues, benches, and walkway are important elements of this historic park.


The Friends is excited to announce, at last, the launch of the plan to design and install permanent lighting of the statues on each block of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. “It has taken 30 years to obtain permission for this project” states Friends Board member and Commonwealth Avenue Mall Chair, Margaret Pokorny. Thirty years ago, this project was begun by Back Bay resident, Stella Trafford. “Thwarted by growing trees, restrictive regulations, and changing technologies, this project has been a continuing goal of the Mall Committee” states Chair, Margaret Pokorny. In October 2018, the Landmarks Commission approved the scheme for the Morison and approved in concept our proposals for the Collins and the Garrison.

“Thoughtful lighting design will enhance the beauty of each statue and create a focal point in each block of the Mall” states Pokorny. “In addition, these new strong pools of light in the center of each block will be an added public safety feature at night.
If enough funds are raised in the near future, installation of the lights at Morison will begin later this year. In addition to lighting installation, this project will include repointing of stonework, restoration of granite surrounds, walkways and turf around each statue as needed. The projected budget for both the lighting and restoration work for this first phase, to include all three statues is approximately $500,000. Our ultimate goal is to light all the statues on the Mall.


We are currently raising funds for the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Statue Lighting. If you’d like to help, you can donate online here or by sending a check in the mail. For more information, email Margaret Pokorny at, or call 617-723-8144.