June 16, 2016

Equestrian Statue of George Washington

Washington Statue

The Equestrian Statue of George Washington is a beautiful statute of George Washington in the Boston Public Gardens. Many tourists use the statue as a background in their Boston photos.

When was the statue unveiled?

The Equestrian Statue of George Washington was unveiled at a small ceremony on Saturday, July 3, 1869, at 5:30 pm. This unveiling was close to the 70th anniversary of George Washington's death.

Former Mayor Alexander Hamilton Rice, the chairman of the George Washington Statue committee, spoke at the ceremony.

Who paid for it?

The statue was paid for by a mix of public and private funds. Most of the money was raised at a fair in 1859. The fair, called the "Washington Statue Fair", raised $10,000 in only eight days. The entire project cost $42,000, of that $34,000 was raised in private funds.

$42,000 was a lot of money in 1859, that's equivalent to more than $7,000,000 dollars today!

Who designed/created it?

Thomas Ball was the sculptor. The Washington Statue Committee wanted a local artist to do the work.

In 1880, Thomas Ball published an autobiographical book, My Threescore Years, which he updated in 1890 as My Three Score Years and Ten. In his autobiography, he provides “A brief history of the equestrian statue of Washington."

Some things I learned from reading his Autobiography:

He attended the ceremony and was honored for his work with the status.

The horse that he used was Colonel T. Bigelow Lawrence’s Black Prince, the mount ridden by the young Prince of wales for the military reception on the Commons during his 1860 visit.

Early on during the planning, a group of prominent citizens were impressed with Thomas Bell work and had a hard time deciding if he deciding if should put together a statue of Daniel Webster or George Washington. It was decided that the Washington Statue was the more appropriate.

Thomas Ball was asked to create the Minuteman statue in Lexington, Massachusetts. The town had just about finished raising money for the project when the civil war broke out. After the war, the town had to start again because many key investors died in the war. The town evidently awarded the contract to Daniel Chester French.

In 1900, Daniel Chester French created a statue for Washington in Paris.

Location of the Statue

The Statue is located in the Boston Public Gardens, near Commonwealth Ave and Arlington Street. The statue greets people as they enter in the Public Gardens from Commonwealth Ave.

The nearest T stop is the Green Line (Arlington Station.)

Misc Information

George Washington first appeared on the dollar bill in 1869.

One person in attendance during the unveiling - Timothy Dodd, actually saw George Washington in Hartford, CT when he was 15 years old.

The Great Elm on Boston Commons was still standing when the Equestrian Statue was placed in the Boston Public Gardens. (It came down 7 years later)

The model for this statue is held by the Boston Athenaeum. You need to be a member of the Boston Athenaeum to see the model.

Total height of the monument is 35 feet, of which 16 feet is taken up by the pedestal.

The figure of Washington is 2,000 pounds, and the weight of the horse is 5,000 pounds. The entire weight of the monument is 10,500 pounds.

The garden beds around the statue are always changing. If you visit around Mothers day you'll be sure to see blooming tulips.

The face of Washington looks towards the West. If you plan on taking pictures, your better off seeing the statue in the afternoon. (The face won't be in the shade.)

The Washington Statue is one of the most popular photo spots in the Boston Public Gardens. Other spots nearby include the Make Way for Ducklings and the Swan Boats from the Lagoon bridge. Nearby is the Boston’s 9/11 memorial, Ether Monument, and the park bench that Robin William sat on in the ‘Good Will Hunting’ movie.

Letter to Boston

The following letter was given to the mayor at the ceremony as formal declaration that this statue is for the people of Boston.

Boston, July 1, 1869

Hon Nath'l B. Shurtleff, Mayor of Boston.

Sir, - The Washington Statue Committee, a corporation under the laws of the Commonwealth, composed of the following named persons: Alexander H. Rice, Thomas Russell, Francis A Underwood, Warren Sawyer, George H, Chickering Benjamin S. Rotch and George Wm Wales, has this day voted to authorize it officers to convey the equestrian statue of Washington, by Thomas Ball, executed in bronze, and the pedestal upon which it now stands in the Public Garden, to the City of Boston, to be held in trust for its citizens forever, as an ornament to the public grounds. By virtue of this authority, the undersigned respectfully convey said statue and pedestal, through you, to the City of Boston, in accordance with the terms of said vote; as we remain your ob't servants, Alexander H. Rice, Presiden. John D.W. Joy, Treasurer. F. H. Underwood, Secretary.

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