Neighborhood Supports Old North Grant Application to Browne Fund for Garden Fountain

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The North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) voted unanimously to support Old North’s application for a fabrication grant from Boston’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund to construct a fountain. This competitive grant is designated for public art and gardens in the City of Boston.

Rev. Stephen Ayres, representing the Old North Foundation, explained the grant and planned construction. Watch his presentation in the video above from the NEWNC meeting and follow along with this timeline.

(1:04) Three years ago, Old North received a $50,000 design grant from the Browne Fund to remodel the Washington Memorial Garden and courtyard, which is the open space to the north side of Old North Church. The goal is to make this space an outdoor classroom space with enhanced seating. The entire courtyard also needs to be brought up to ADA code.

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Site plan rendering. Click to enlarge.

(2:32) The focus of Old North’s first Browne Fund grant was for the central design feature of the garden, which is a water fountain on which the poem “Paul Revere’s Ride” will be inscribed. This will be a space for students and visitors to come and learn about the poem, which was actually written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow on the eve of the Civil War to encourage young men to join the Union army.

(4:19) Two changes have been made to the original design. The first is that the poem was originally going to be on a water wall, but it will now be a water table that will reflect the bell tower and Old North Church. The other change is that abutters expressed a desire for the crabapple tree to be saved. The Old North Foundation brought in an arborist who is attempting to save the tree.

(5:48) Old North is now going back to the Browne Fund to ask for $300,000 in fabrication funds. This will pay for the fountain part of the project. The overall project is about $1,000,000, of which Old North is about 40% of the way toward their goal.

(6:21) The plants in the courtyard will be moved to the edges in raised planters so there will be more seating and room for a few tables. At the entrance to the garden will be a smaller artwork, done by a Brighton High School art teacher who also assisted with the design process.

(8:22) NEWNC President John Pregmon asked if any other North End groups are applying for the grant. Rev. Ayres said he did not know of any other neighborhood applications and Maria Lanza from the Mayor’s Office confirmed that Old North is the only North End group applying for the Browne Fund.

On March 14, 2019, Steve Ayres also presented to the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) which also voted to support the Old North application. The video from the NEWRA meeting is shown below.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. My first thought is that this isn’t a public space and shouldn’t qualify for the Browne Fund. (The church started charging a fee to access the grounds and building in May of 2018.) While I don’t see “publicly accessible” as a specific requirement in the grant application, it seems implicit and Mr. Ayres refers to the grant as being “specifically for public art”.

    The application does explicitly state that the project should be “in a high area of visibility” and should be in a area that “lacks similar amenities”; while this project would be tucked away in a corner on private property near another fountain.

    We’ll see, but methinks the church should be looking elsewhere for this funding.

  2. The Old North campus is open free of charge to all Boston City residents. All Old North educational programs are offered free of charge to Boston Public Schools. We understand your concern and have structured our admission policy to recognize the many ways that the City of Boston supports the Old North.

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