Monument may get rehabbed

September 10, 2009
By

David Taber

MONUMENT SQ.—The Civil War Soldiers Monument at the intersection of Centre and South streets is overdue for a makeover according to a recent report commissioned by the Boston Arts Commission.

But it is not precisely clear where the estimated $65,000 to $75,000 it will take to get the job done will come from.

Built in the 1870s, the 34-foot monument features a gothic shrine housing a marble block inscribed with the names of men who died in the Civil War from West Roxbury—at that time an independent town that included Jamaica Plain. A statue of a Union soldier sits on top of the shrine.

“A lot of maintenance hasn’t been done over times,” arts commission director Karin Goodfellow told the Gazette.

According to the report, the monument is “structurally sound,” but all of the joints in the structure need to be repointed—refilled with either mortar or lead. The granite structure and bronze ornaments need to be cleaned. And the report calls for the replacement of a black metal finial—one of four decorative pieces at the top of the four spires at the corners of the monument—with a bronze piece to match the other three.

It suggests as “optional” that the granite spire where that finial rests—apparently replaced at the same time as the finial—be replaced with Quincy granite to better match the other three, and that the granite curb around the lawn where the monument sits be reset.

That sounds straightforward enough, but the report—issued by Ivan Myjer of Building and Monument Conservation in Arlington—says some mysteries should be solved before the work begins.

For one thing, there is evidence of both lead and mortar between the slabs of granite that make-up the monument, but it is unclear which was used during the last round of maintenance in 1993. “Both lead and mortar can be observed in the joints but it is not clear which material is original,” the report says.

It is even possible they were both used, the report says, calling for “archival research to determine historic joint treatment.”

Some of the current damage to the monument is occurring because lead apparently packed between the stones in 1993 was applied improperly, allowing water to seep between the stones, the report says.

“I’m not sure I saw the documentation from 1993. I am not sure what was done,” Myjer said in a Gazette interview.

The report’s first recommendation is to, “Document all treatments before, during and after treatment with text and photographs.”

The city is, of course, operating on a tight budget. But at the August meeting of the Jamaica Pond Association (JPA) Board, board member Michael Reiskind said there is a good chance that the restoration will receive some funding from Browne Fund—a grant fund, administered in part by the Boston Arts Commission, that is dedicated to open-space improvements.

Reiskind and Goodfellow both said the restoration would cost more than the Browne Fund could offer. Reiskind said at the meeting that he plans to convene a group—potentially including members of the Tuesday Club, the board that oversees the nearby historic Loring-Greenough House—to begin the grant application process.

Reiskind did not return Gazette phone calls for this article, but Myjer told the Gazette he had been asked about the feasibility conducting the project in multiple phases.

“You have to look at the logistics in terms of scaffolding,” he said. One possibility would be to have one phase of ground-level and one phase of aerial work, he said.

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