On a recent brisk evening in March, a group of hearty Bostonians relished the opportunity to take a “Spin in the Park” to kick off the Boston Landmarks Commission’s (BLC) 40th anniversary. The tour of Boston Common, a designated landmark since 1977, was co-hosted by BLC and the Friends of the Public Garden.
Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza spoke of the non-profit’s 45-year history of working in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to care for one of Boston’s most prized treasures. She noted the challenges of caring for a heavily used urban park and reflected on several challenges America’s first public park has faced since its origins. Today, the park continues to struggle to get the necessary level of funding for care, to match the intensity of its use.
Vizza urged everyone to be aware of the needs of this “park of the people,” recalling that it was the citizens of Boston who pitched in to purchase it in 1634 as public space for generations to come.
William Young, BLC’s Director of Design Review, spoke about several significant pieces of sculpture on the Common and provided insights into what was happening in Boston and the design community that may have influenced public art at the time. The tour began at the Parade Ground at the corner of Beacon and Charles streets, and highlights included the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Parkman Bandstand, the Visitor Information Center, and Brewer Fountain Plaza. Young’s colleague, Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel, provided an overview of a project she participated in which transformed a restroom into what is now the Earl of Sandwich, a window-service restaurant that is open from spring through the fall.
The evening was intended to end with skating on the Frog Pond, another wonderful landmark; however, due to warm weather earlier in the week it closed for the season. Nonetheless, all enjoyed the twilight stroll through the Common.
BLC XL has several events slated for 2015, including the BLC’s National Historic Preservation Month keynote event, to be held in May; a picnic and talk in Franklin Park, co-hosted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, scheduled for July; and a harvest-themed archaeological program coinciding with National Archaeology Month in October.
For upcoming event details and announcements, follow the BLC on Facebook and Twitter (@COBLandmarks), or visit their website at boston.gov/landmarks.