September 13, 2018

William Ellery Channing Statue

At the corner of Bolyston and Arlington Street in Boston is a statue that has overlooked Arlington Street for the past 115 years, it's a statue of William Ellery Channing.

William Ellery Channing (April 7, 1780 - October 2, 1842) was a popular Unitarian preacher in the early nineteenth century.

Description of the Monument

A portrait of William Ellery Channing, standing holding the Bible in his proper left hand and clutching the folds of his ecclesiastical robes to his chest with his proper right hand. The sculpture rests atop a granite base that is installed in a marble niche beneath a marble canopy. The monument is approached by two granite steps.

The Channing Picture

Nine things I learned about the William Ellery Channing Statue

Statue was paid for by John Foster, a former attendant at the Arlington Street Church. He left $30,000 in his Will for the purposes of a new statue for his mentor William Channing. ($30,000 in 1903 is equivalent in purchasing power to $835,636.36 in 2017)

John Foster, was a notable Boston Merchant who died on April 9, 1897. He was part of a successful wholesale grocery store - Foster & Taylor. His Will also contributed funds to the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Town of Hudson, NH, Warner, NH, Perkins Institution for the Blind, MIT and many others.

Mr. Foster directed that the William Channing statue be placed in the Garden across from the church because Channing was once pastor of the Federal Street Church, the predecessor of the Arlington Street Church.

The statue was designed by Vincent C. Griffith and created by Herbert Adams. The design was approved by Boston Art Commission.

The foundation for the statue was put in place on September 11, 1902.

Statue was dedicated on June 1st, 1903 ( 60 years and 8 months after William Channing passing ) The day was chosen because it was the 100th anniversary of the ordination an installation of Channing into the Christian ministry.

There were about a thousand people in attendance when the statue was unveiled, including William Ellery Channing Eustis the niece of William Channing.

The William Ellery Channing statue is the first statue in Boston of a clergyman. The next clergyman statue was placed only seven year later - the Phillips Brook Statue down the street at the Trinity Church.

If you walk up to the statue and look at the foot of the statue on both sides, you can see the signature of the developer - Herbert Adams

Two Inscriptions that are next to the statue

He breathed into theology a humane spirit and proclaimed a new divinity of man.

He preached with spiritual power and led a great dance toward Christian ideals.

Back Side of the Statue

Many people may not know, but on the backside of the statue, the part you can see in the Public Gardens, is the following quote:

I see the marks of God in the heavens and the earth, but how much more in a liberal intellect, in magnanimity, in unconquerable rectitude, in a philanthropy which forgives every wrong, and which never despairs of the cause of Christ and human virtue. I do and I must reverence human nature... I thank God that my own lot is bound up with that of the human race.

Fun Facts

To get an idea of how long the statue has been there, when it was dedicated in 1903, the Boston Red Sox were on their way to a championship season by winning their first World Series over at the Huntington Grounds. Just days after the statue was dedicated, June 1903, the State of Massachusetts had begun to issue the first driver's licenses and registration plates.

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