By Dan Murphy
The Friends of the Public Garden are currently undertaking a $50,000 restoration of the William Ellery Channing statue in the Public Garden.
The project includes cleaning the bronze statue, as well as its marble and granite base, said Sarah Hutt, the nonprofit’s care and collection manager.
“We tried to do everything environmentally responsible manner, including using a special laser-technique to remove biological growth that adheres to the stone,” Hutt said, adding that caring for the stonework largely accounts for the high cost of the project.
The statue was cast by the Henry Bonnard Bronze Co Foundry and erected in an alcove in the park near Arlington and Boylston streets in 1903 to honor Channing, who was regarded as the country’s foremost Unitarian preacher in the early 19th century and served from 1803 until his death at age 62 in 1842 as senior minister of the Federal Street Church (today, the Arlington Street Church, which sits across the street from the monument). The statue’s distinct craftsmanship includes an excerpt from his 1828 oration “Likeness to God” etched in the rear of its base.
“We are thrilled to restore the William Ellery Channing statue as part of our sculpture-care program,” Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends group, wrote in an e-mail. “The inscription on the back of the monument will be re-gilded, so people will finally be able to read the words.”
After the three-week project wraps up next week, the Friends aren’t slated to clean the statue again until 2032.
“Because the city doesn’t have the capacity to care for and maintain its many pieces of public art, the Friends have taken on the responsibility for the upkeep of the 42 statues in the Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue Mall and Boston Common.” Hutt said. “We have developed a maintenance plan for each one and want to keep them in the best condition possible.”