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Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial to undergo major restoration

Effort to reinforce popular Boston Civil War monument will also include new programming

James Kirkikis/Shutterstock

The Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial on Beacon Street just across from the Massachusetts State House will undergo a major restoration starting in 2019.

The National Park Service, Friends of the Public Garden, the Museum of African American History, and the City of Boston are leading the $2.8 million effort, which will also include the creation of new programming related to the memorial, which honors the first all-black Army regiment recruited during the Civil War.

The bas-relief that Augustus Saint-Gaudens sculpted was installed in 1897, and has become one of the most visited war memorials in not only Boston but the nation. According to Friends of the Public Garden, “systemic shortcomings in the monument’s design have caused water intrusion and movement of stones.”

The memorial’s bronze portion is no longer anchored securely enough to its brick back, rendering the whole thing susceptible to collapse. So the entire thing will be reconstructed to ensure longer-term stability. That will mean removing the bronze portion for a time.

As for the programming, that will be designed to engage people “in critical conversations on race, freedom and justice, as well as the power of art to keep important stories alive and relevant today,” according to Friends of the Public Garden.