As the Friends of the Public Garden enters into the second and final phase of its $4 million rehabilitation of Brewer Fountain Plaza, this popular destination on the Boston Common is destined to become an even more inviting place.
In 2010, Boston Parks and Recreation Department completed restoration work on a long-neglected bronze casting of a sculpture created for the 1855 World’s Fair in Paris and subsequently donated to Boston by Beacon Hill merchant Gardner Brewer. The city’s effort subsequently prompted the Friends group to revitalize the area surrounding the fountain’s current location near Tremont and Park streets.
Phase one of the Friends’ project, which remains its largest undertaking to date, was completed in 2012 and restored the plaza and parkland leading up to the State House. Since then, the Friends have further enhanced the site by introducing café chairs and tables, an “outdoor reading room” stocked with books and magazines and live piano music at lunchtime.
“We find that when the tables and chairs come out in the spring, people really flock to the area,” said Eileen Scafidi, communications and outreach director for the Friends group. “The Friends have also coordinated a Clover food truck for the plaza, so now it’s really the complete package.”
Bob Mulcahy, project manager for the Friends, said during the last phase of the project, a historic fence would be installed to run the 350-foot length between the Park Street Station MBTA headhouse located adjacent to Tremont Street and Parkman Plaza in front of the Visitor’s Information Center.
“Sometime in fall, after the lawn is established, the fences around the small parcels located between the headhouse and the plaza will also come down,” Mulcahy added. “The activation of that space is critical to creating a real sense of vibrancy and liveliness.”
Other second-phase improvements will include the addition of a curbed grass-edge and a reduction to the scale of the Lafayette Mall along Tremont Street.
Among regular visitors to the revitalized plaza is Christine Thomas, a Dorchester resident who said she visits it about every other week.
“I love that there is a place to sit in the shade with reading material,” Thomas said. “It’s also a nice attraction for tourists who can see people reading, eating and enjoying the music.”
Isaac Henderson, who works as fountain staff for the Friends group during the summer months, said the plaza brings heavy foot-traffic to the area and provides a good spot to congregate.
“It’s a very diverse group that comes here, a really good mix of cultures from throughout the city,” Henderson said.