Preservation of Significant Monuments: Hosea Ballou Statue

May 1, 2012

This article originally appeared in the  June 2010 Friends of Mount Auburn electronic newsletter.

The marble statue of Reverend Hosea Ballou has just been cleaned by Mount Auburn’s talented preservation staff!  We invite you to come take a walk down Central Avenue to look at this wonderful and imposing statue.

Hosea Ballou (1771-1852); was a renowned American Universalist minister, theologian, and author.  His statue at Mount Auburn portrays him in the “full vigor of adulthood.”  A larger than life portrait, it stands on a granite base of about 6 feet high.  The overall statue is a colossal 14 feet in height.

Carved by a local sculptor Edward A. Brackett (1818-1908), this statue is of particular significance because it is a portrait of a notable New Englander; it was crafted from New England marble; and it was carved by a New England sculptor who did not go to Italy to learn his craft.

Out of the approximately 45,000 monuments at Mount Auburn, there are a small number of highly significant monuments that contribute to the Cemetery’s significance . The Ballou statue is one such monument and archival records in the Historical Collections support its significance:

The same week the statue was erected in July 1859, an article in the Boston Transcript described the “New Statue of Mount Auburn:”  

“The statue of the late Rev. Hosea Ballou has been erected in Mount Auburn.  It was executed by Brackett, one of the best of our native sculptors….It is of white marble, pure and serene, in the sunlight, calm and dignified in the shade…It varies slightly as you take a front or profile view — the profile is perhaps the best.”

An 1873 Guide through Mount Auburn, (Russell & Richardson) describes the statue:  

“Those who from long familiarity with the departed are entitled to express an opinion of the artists’ fidelity, are satisfied with the result of his labors, while viewed simply as a work of art, we think that a high rank will be accorded to this effort.”  

Mount Auburn staff is currently planning for the preservation and long term care of highly significant monuments.  In doing so, we contribute to the overall beauty of the Cemetery landscape as a whole.  View photos of the Hosea Ballou monument cleaning on the Friends of Mount Auburn Flickr page.  The cleaning work on the Ballou monument was done in consideration of the Perpetual Care contract with the family which obliges the Cemetery to wash, point and plumb the monument.  For further questions, please contact Curator of Historical Collections Meg L. Winslow at mwinslow@mountauburn.org 

*Image above: 1860 Engraving from the Guide through Mount Auburn, Boston: Bricher and Russell, p. 59

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