BLC approves installation of granite covers for Johnson Memorial Gates basins

The Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) met virtually on February 23, where they approved a proposal for the Johnson Memorial Gates in the Back Bay Fens to install granite covers on top of the basins.

“In 2019, the conservation of the Johnson Gates and improvement to the surrounding landscape was completed,” said Cathy Baker-Eclipse, a project manager for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department. She said that the landscape restoration work included the realignment of pedestrian pathways to better “reflect” how people walked through the area, the conservation of the Johnson gates, among other things.

Baker-Eclipse explained via a slide that the Johnson Memorial Gates were “gifted to the City of Boston at the bequest of Ellen C. Johnson in 1902,” to celebrate the life of her husband, Jesse Johnson.

“Although the Johnson Gates are not in the period of  primary significance for the Emerald Necklace, the monuments are historically significant,” the slide read.

Baker-Eclipse said that the proposal is to cover “the large basins on the piers of the gates” with granite, as there is some cracking and damage that has bene caused by the freeze/thaw cycle. She said that the “basin on the north pier appears to be free draining at this point.” 

The crack in the south basin has been repaired, but could potentially re-open or a new crck could be created. 

She said that the horse trough basins along Hemenway St. already have granite slabs that were removed for joint resealing and replaced in 2013. 

“This proposal is to cover both basins on the north pier and the south pier,” Baker-Eclipse said, adding that the “primary goal of this project” is to allow the piers to “return to functional order at some point in the future,” as well as “ensure that no irreversible damage is done in this project.”  

The basins will be covered with granite slabs that have been measured to fit in the basins, and a “removable, non-compressible filler” will be used, she said. 

The BLC voted to approve the project with the proviso that staff will review final drawings for approval. 

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