The Soldiers and Sailors Monument 1872-73
Civil War Commemorative Statue
The Training Field is Charlestown’s beloved “outdoor room,” and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is its centerpiece.
Today this massive granite statue is looking better than it has for years, thanks to a professional conservation effort sponsored by Charlestown Preservation Society and completed in August 2008.
Preservation came just in time: conservators discovered that the mortar holding the three main figures together had disintegrated, putting the whole statue in danger of collapse. Besides repointing with mortar to match the original, the conservators cleaned and repaired the granite following the Secretary of the Interior’s standards for preservation.
The statue was created by Victorian sculptor Martin Milmore (You’ll find his name on the book at the soldier’s feet). Milmore who was born in Ireland, educated at Boston Latin School and apprenticed in Charlestown, is also responsible for commemorative sculptures in the Boston Common and Forest Hills Cemetery.
When the scaffolding came down last month, the Training Field statue positively gleamed. The tree growing out of the top is gone, along with weeds, moss and algae. Original details are again visible: you can see the veins in the soldiers’ hands and the stars on Victory’s robes.
To make sure quality maintenance will continue, CPS has established an endowment for the statue through the City of Boston’s Adopt-a-Statue Fund.
Many thanks to those who helped fund the statue conservation, including the George B. Henderson Foundation, the Convention Center Authority Community Partnership Fund, the City of Boston Small Changes Program, and more than 70 generous Charlestown residents and businesses.
Ivan Myjer of Building and Monument Conservation was the project conservator, along with the Joseph Gnazzo Company, preservation masonry specialists, and Tree Specialists of Holliston, which trimmed nearby trees to increase sunlight and discourage plant growth.
New Interpretive Panels Detail
History of Charlestown Training Field
Everybody loves the Charlestown Training Field. Most of us don't know much about it.
Three new interpretive panels in the Training Field will remedy this. The panels - funded by a grant to the Charlestown Preservation Society from the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund of the City of Boston- cover themes of war and commemoration, the changing Training Field landscape, and threats to the little park's existence.
The panels tell us the Training Field started life as a training ground for colonial militia in the 1640s. In 1775 it was part of the Battle of Bunker Hill, and in the early nineteenth century it housed a firehouse, munitions depot and schoolhouse before becoming the urban park we know today.
In the mid-twentieth century it was the focus of another kind of battle as Charlestown residents fought efforts to turn it into a highway offramp.
You can learn all this and more in the panels, which were researched, designed and installed by a professional preservation team led by Dodson Associates of Ashfield, MA and which included Content Design Collaborative of Scituate, MA and the Public Archaeology Laboratory of Pawtucket, RI.
The first panel sits just inside the Adams and Winthrop Street entrance, between the Civil War commemorative statue -- restored by CPS in 2006 -- and the steps leading to the Bunker Hill Monument. Its focus is on the twin themes of war and commemoration.
The second panel, at the Adams and Common Street entrance, depicts the Training Field's many lives as schoolyard, munitions depot and urban park. Maps and photos highlight the park's changing landscape and include wonderful images of the children who attended the old Training Field School, now relocated on Common Street.
The third panel, near the Park Street entrance, covers threats to the Training Field's survival, including nineteenth and twentieth-century road-building proposals that would have effectively destroyed the park. The panel details the contribution of the Reverend Wolcott Cutler, rector of St. John's Episcopal Church, who marshaled community opposition to a twentieth-century proposal that would have marooned the Training Field in the middle of a highway off-ramp.
The panels are the result of more than two years of planning and design that began in 2009 with community meetings to gather information and plan themes and subthemes.
A happy result of the planning process was the wealth of information unearthed. Contributions came from Charlestown residents and the Charlestown Branch Library, the Stanford University Library, the Bostonian Society, the Boston Athenaeum and Historic New England.
Because it's impossible to include all the information gathered on the panels, CPS will publish much of it as well as a bibliography of Training Field sources on our website, charlestownpreservation.org, with easy links to other sites.
The panels were informally unveiled on Veterans' Day 2010. The'll be formally presented to the community at a celebration in May 2011.
CPS managed the interpretive panels project with invaluable input from the Boston Parks Department, which owns the Training Field, the Boston National Historical Park, the Browne Fund, the Friends of the Training Field, St. John's Episcopal Church, and many other local organizations, veterans' groups and residents who shared documents and memories of Charlestown's beloved"outdoor living room."