This week, the long-awaited restoration of the fountain at the George Robert White Memorial has started.
After more than 30 years, the Friends will bring the water back to this iconic memorial, which for many is a beloved symbol of the Public Garden. The White Memorial is an important Daniel Chester French commission, where the fountain is an essential part of the artist’s conception. Erected in 1924, the memorial is the last of the many collaborations by the sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon, a partnership perhaps best known for the Lincoln Memorial.
The memorial, which locals and visitors often refer to as “The Angel,” is located in the Public Garden near the corner of Beacon and Arlington streets. The sculpture and fountain honor one of Boston’s greatest benefactors. When White died in 1922, his will included a charitable trust to be used for public beauty and utility, with $50,000 set aside for his own memorial.
The fundraising goal of $700,000 was reached last year to support the restoration and continued maintenance of the Memorial. “On behalf of the Friends, I would like to thank all of the neighbors who donated,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends of the Public Garden.
In partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department and made possible through the generosity of 111 neighbors, the transformation will include a newly restored fountain, accessible pathway, benches, stair railings, and landscape plantings. The fountain will have re-circulating water required by state plumbing code, and the two rams’ head cornucopias will spout water into the basin as it did when the memorial was dedicated. The inscription beneath the statue says: “Cast thy bread upon the waters…” and in about two months, “The Angel” will be casting her bread upon actual waters again.
The Friends extends sincere thanks to the local private donors, the 2014 Green and White Ball Committee for allocating a portion of the Ball proceeds to the project, and to the Harriet J. Bradbury Fund at the Museum of Fine Arts. Bradbury was George Robert White’s sister and left a bequest to care for the sculpture. Contributions can still be made to support the ongoing maintenance of the fountain at www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.