May 7, 2020

Samuel Eliot Morison Statue

On the Commonwealth Ave Mall, between Exeter Street and Fairfield Street is the statue of Samuel Eliot Morison.

Samuel Eliot Morison (1887 - 1976) was a Boston native, a sailor, maritime historian, Harvard professor, author of 48 books, Pulitzer Prize winner, and loved everything about New England.

His Pulitzer Prize win in 1943 was for the book: "Admiral of the Ocean Sea: A Life of Christopher Columbus." He won again in the 1960 book about "John Paul Jones, a Sailor's Biography."

Samuel Morison

Various Fun Facts about the Statue

  • The bronze statue was commissioned by the Morison Memorial Committee spearheaded by Mrs. Stella Trafford, who was the chairwomen of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall Committee of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay.
  • The statue was funded by the George B. Henderson Foundation, there's a stone at the base to let people know.
  • The statue was dedicated on October 15, 1982 (2,344 days after Samuel died)
  • Emily Morison Beck, Samuel's daughter, was the person who unveiled the statue to a large crowd. She said that the location was perfect and that her father was "not looking at the sea" he was looking into history."
  • Penelope Jencks was the statue sculptor. This was her first major statue. She is best known for the Eleanor Roosevelt statue in New York City.
  • Samuel Morison was well known for wearing sneakers, but the statue shows him wearing regular shoes.
  • He is wearing a windbreaker, a captain cap, with a book in one hand and binoculars in the other.
  • He is sitting on a 20-ton granite rock from Rhode Island - as if he was looking out to sea.
  • At his feet are bronze casts of crabs, shells, and starfish.
  • This statue was the first one on the CommonWealth Mall to be lite up at night.
  • When Samuel Morison was born in 1887, the CommonWealth Mall was just completed from the Back Bay fill. Commonwealth Ave was just an empty street with no buildings.

Additional Photos

There are two quotes around the statue:

  • Dreams Dreams, Then write them aye, but live them first.
  • To my readers young and old, "A flowne sheate a faire winde a boune voyage."

Morison Stone Quotes

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