Fall 2016 Update: The Johnson Memorial Gates and surrounding parkland have been included in Mayor Walsh’s 2017 budget in a capital improvement project managed by the Parks and Recreation Department. Established as a new project in FY’16, partial appropriations of the $820,000 allocation in FY’17 will allow for preliminary work on the park, including site assessment and project planning. With repairs to encompass conservation, accessibility upgrades, and landscape restoration, this highly anticipated project will follow Fenway Civic Association’s efforts since 2013 to address structural issues threatening the gates, and the community’s long-standing concerns with deteriorating conditions of the pathways and parkland.
Our organization has been working together with the City and property owners to address degrading conditions at the Johnson Memorial Gates, located at the corner of Westland Avenue and Hemenway Street in the East Fenway.
Erected in 1902 at the bequest of Ellen C. Johnson as a memorial to her husband and designed by Guy Lowell, this elegant three-part monument incorporating tall pylons, balustrade benches, and horse troughs serves as a grand entrance and anchor to the Back Bay Fens portion of the Emerald Necklace parks system.
In May 2013, FCA consulted with conservators and conducted a site visit with owners and the City to assess conditions at the Gates. Following this visit, proposals for bronze conservation and exploratory work to perform assessments and treatment recommendations for the monument were included in a grant proposal. Funding was awarded, with bronze components cleaned, repainted, and waxed in October 2013 by conservator Rika McNally and masonry assessments performed in November 2013 by conservator Ivan Myjer. This work was made possible with the help of neighbors, the residents and management companies at 73 and 97 Hemenway Street, both of whom provided electricity and water access.
The conditions assessment revealed major structural issues with the tall piers and the horse troughs of the Gates. Estimated costs to stabilize the three elements exceed $229,000.00, and a total rebuild of the piers bring those figures to over one million dollars. To view the conditions assessment, click here.
Fenway Civic is working to secure funding for this important conservation work. We will continue to work towards repairs to the Gates as well as advocate for improvements to the parkland and pathways surrounding them, and invite your support.
For photographs of the restoration work, please see the following links: