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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Beauford in Boston: Public Garden and Boston Common

Last week, I shared several photos of Copley Place and the north slope of Beacon Hill - areas that Beauford frequented when he lived in Boston (1923-1929). In the same spirit, today I bring you photos of the Public Garden and Boston Common.

Public Garden
© Discover Paris!

In Amazing Grace: A Life of Beauford Delaney, David A. Leeming describes how Beauford wandered around the old city during his first months in Boston. He talks of the Wendell Phillips Memorial Statue in the Public Garden as a place where Beauford listened to speeches and lectures.

Wendell Phillips Memorial
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He indicates that Beauford met Nobel Prize winner Sinclair Lewis at the Garden and indicates that Beauford heard John Haynes Holmes preach at the Community Church of Boston located just south of the Garden on Carver Street (renamed Charles Street South). He also mentions Beauford's first "intimate experience," a sexual encounter that took place in one of the swan boats on the pond in the garden.

Swan boats at Public Garden
© Discover Paris!

Leeming devotes an entire paragraph to Beauford's admiration of the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial in the Boston Common.

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial
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The bronze sculpture is the first stop on Boston's Black Heritage Trail.

Black Heritage Trail Sign
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Created in 1897 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens in honor of the first black military regiment recruited by the North during the Civil War, it faces the Massachusetts State House - a building that Beauford admired.

Massachusetts State House (Beacon Street entrance)
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I learned a great deal about this sculpture from Ranger Todd MacGowen of the National Park Service*. MacGowan pointed out how the soldiers are portrayed with solemn dignity, each with distinct facial features. This contrasts with the generic, stereotypical way that blacks were portrayed in art during the era.

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial (detail-1)
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Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial (detail-2)
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He also indicated that while the horse in the sculpture appears skittish and frightened (eyes bulging, nostrils flared, mouth open), the soldiers appear calm and determined.

Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial (detail-3)
© Discover Paris!

The 54th Regiment, led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw of Boston, left Boston to go to war by marching down Beacon Street in front of the State House. Several surviving members of the regiment attended the dedication ceremony for the memorial 34 years later.

*The National Park Service has organized a guided walking tour of the Black Heritage Trail, which I highly recommend. For information, visit www.nps.gov/boaf.

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Semen Rendi said...
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