News Release

The Shaw 54th: Restoring the Memorial and the Dialog on Race

An image of the Shaw Memorial framed by elm trees.
Shaw Memorial at Dawn

Photo by Matt Teuten, Courtesy NPS/Boston African American NHS

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News Release Date: October 9, 2019

The Shaw 54th: Restoring the Memorial and the Dialogue on Race

Boston, MA – On Tuesday, October 15, 2019, from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m., the City of Boston, Friends of the Public Gardens, Museum of African American History and the National Park Service will announce the partnership to support the multi-million dollar restoration project of the Shaw Memorial. The event will take place at the Shaw Memorial at 24 Beacon Street across from the Massachusetts State House, with remarks from Mayor Martin J. Walsh and National Park Service Region 1, Deputy Regional Director, Rose Fennell.

The bas-relief Memorial was create by the great American sculptor, Augustus Saint Gaudens and is considered by many to be America’s greatest public monument, both as a stirring work of art as well as a powerful narrative of equal rights and social justice. It is a monument that honors the brave men of the 54th Regiment, among the first* regiments of black troops recruited in the North to fight for their freedom in the Civil War. Led by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the 54th Regiment led the assault on the Confederate Fort Wagner, part of the Charleston defenses. Shaw was shot through the chest and died almost immediately. Of the 600 men of the 54th in the attack that day, there were 285 casualties. Today, the Shaw Memorial stands as a reminder of Boston’s central role in the campaign to end slavery, the demand for equal rights for all, and the sacrifices made by so many.

Built with private funds and donated to the City of Boston in 1897, the Shaw Memorial is in need of substantial work for restoration and stabilization. Work will commence in the spring of 2020 for a period of 5-6 months. The bronze and stone Memorial will be removed from the base, taken offsite to a conservation studio, new waterproofing will be installed under the plaza’s brick and a new concrete foundation will be built under the bronze. Upon completion of the stabilization, the Shaw Memorial will be returned to its “home” and this important piece of America’s history will continue to be an inspiration to present and future generations working together in advancing the cause of equality and justice for all. The City of Boston and Friends of the Public Garden provided 50% of funding and the National Park Service, through the Helium Fund, provided the other 50%.

Immediately following the program, join Park Ranger Ryan McNabb for a 90 minute facilitated walk along the Black Heritage Trail® that looks at the leading efforts of the African American community in Boston in the abolishment movement and years leading up to the Civil War. This walk navigates one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. Sidewalks can often be narrow and uneven. Comfortable footwear is recommended.

Meet the men of the 54th Regiment! The National Parks of Boston, Shawmobile will be at Boston Common from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to” meet” individual men from the 54th Regiment through an interactive, touch screen, digital display of images and biographical information for some of the men of the 54th.

National Park Service Rangers will be on hand to unveil an augmented reality app that will offer a whole new way of experiencing and interacting with the Shaw Memorial and its layered significance during the restoration phase and well beyond. Visitors will be able to download and experience the Shaw 54 app.

An American Sign Language interpreter will be available. In the event of inclement weather the program will be moved to the Massachusetts State House, located across the street from the Memorial.

About the National Parks of Boston

The National Parks of Boston is a collection of three National Park Service sites – Boston National Historical Park, Boston African American National Historic Site, and Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. Established by individual legislation and for designated purposes, the three units have come together under a unified organizational umbrella to collaborate in ways that celebrate our cultural heritage, reconnect people to history and nature, and provide outdoor recreation opportunities on land and on the water.


Last updated: January 20, 2022

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