By Dan Murphy
Following a multi-year fundraising campaign, the Friends of the Public Garden has completed its restoration of the George Robert White Memorial fountain in the park.
“Thanks to the generous support of many community members, the fountain is now fully operational after being dry since the 1980s,” wrote Elizabeth Vizza, executive director of the nonprofit group. “The two rams head cornucopias are spouting water into the pebble-lined water-filled basin and the ‘Angel’ is once again figuratively casting her bread upon the water.”
The “Angel,” as the fountain is known locally, sits in the northwest corner of the Public Garden and honors White, a noted Boston philanthropist. Upon his death in 1922, White bequeathed an endowment of $5 million to the city to underwrite public art, with the sole stipulation that $50,000 be set aside for the creation of a monument in his honor. Renowned sculptor Daniel Chester French completed the memorial in 1924, which has remained inactive since the 1980s, when it was discontinued for numerous reasons.
This week, however, following three months of construction, the site is open to the general public, with all its fencing removed. Visitors to the park who didn’t see the fountain running over the weekend will have to wait until spring for the water’s return as it has been shut off in preparation for winter. Several additional items need to be finished in the meantime, too, which will result in temporary closings of paths or limited access onto the plaza area, so “please be mindful of the crews working and aware of path closures,” Vizza asks.
The fountain will appear exposed until the spring to make way for planting of trees and shrubs that will grace the park next year. Rope fencing will also surround two newly sodded areas, so Vizza requests that “all two and four-legged traffic remain off until [it] is removed.”
In the spring, the Friends also intend to plant a Horsechestnut tree at the fountain as a tribute to Anne Brooks, the group’s late board chair.
“The Friends would like to thank everyone who donated, worked to make the restoration happen and lived with the inconvenience over the past months,” Vizza wrote. “It was worth all the effort.”