Abigail Adams Statue Dedication Saturday At Hancock-Adams Common

Workers using a crane lower the new Abigail Adams statue onto its pedestal Wednesday morning. The statue, shown here partially covered with protective fabric, will be unveiled at a dedication ceremony Saturday, Nov. 5 at 11 a.m. at the Hancock-Adams Common. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth

By SCOTT JACKSON

Up to 500 people are expected on hand on Saturday morning as the city unveils a new statue of Abigail Adams within the Hancock-Adams Common in Quincy Center.

The ceremony to unveil the new statue of nation’s second first lady will take place on Saturday starting at 11 a.m., rain or shine. The ceremony will be held in the vicinity of the statue, which is being installed near the front entrance to the United First Parish Church at 1306 Hancock St.

While he optimistic hundreds will be on hand for Saturday’s event, Mayor Thomas Koch said the turnout is unlikely to top the estimated attendance of 3,500 for the dedication of the Hancock-Adams Common four years ago.

“I don’t compare it necessarily to the opening of the Hancock-Adams Common, because that was the opening of the whole park – it wasn’t just about the statues – so the newness of that I think attracted a lot more folks. Plus, David McCullough was a huge, huge attraction,” Koch said, referring to the late historian and author who was a keynote speaker at the 2018 ceremony, along with Gov. Charlie Baker.

The mayor has chosen two keynote speakers, both experts on the Adams family, for the ceremony on Saturday.

“We’ve got two terrific keynote speakers. Catherine Allgor, who is the president of the Mass. Historic Society and author and historian. And, Danielle Allen, who is a professor at Harvard who is an Adams expert. She is also an author of a recent book too about our Declaration of Independence,” Koch said.

“Both are very, very well astute when it comes to the Adamses and the history of the Adamses and their contributions, so I’m looking forward to that.”

“I’m hoping we have 400 or 500 people there,” Koch added. “We’ll have refreshments following in a tent right on the Hancock-Adams Common on the grass portion for the people. It should be a great day.”

Also slated to speak at Saturday’s dedication is US Rep. Stephen Lynch, Koch said. Other federal and state elected officials have been invited to the event and will be given a chance to speak if they are present. The mayor did note that he is wary about the event going too long depending on the forecast for Saturday.

“Timewise, if it’s a cold day, you don’t want to be out there too long for people,” he said.

The ceremony will take place rain or shine. In the event of inclement weather, the mayor said the dedication could be moved indoors to the nearby McIntyre Government Center.

Koch announced plans to incorporate the new statue of Abigail Adams into the common earlier this year, after a group of residents urged the city to return to the downtown the statue of Abigail and a young John Quincy Adams that was removed when construction of the common began. Koch commissioned Sergey Eylanbekov, the artist who crafted the statues of John Adams and John Hancock that bookend the park’s promenade, to craft the new statue.

The city worked with some of those residents who spoke out about the Abigail Adams statue to select the home for the new one within the common, and also got their feedback on the quotes chosen to frame the statue.

“The committee that we put together, which included a number of the women that had written letters and spoken, were involved with that along with Ed Fitzgerald and Alexandra Elliott from the [Quincy] Historical Society. They did the research, they came up with those quotes, and I’m fine with them,” Koch said.

“It’s a pretty incredible story, John and Abigail, and the letter writing back and forth. It’s just an incredible marriage in the history of our country. When people see the statue and how she is, it’s going to really make a lot of sense, because they wrote so many letters back and forth to each other. And she’ll be looking in the direction of where John is. I think people are going to be very impressed. It’s a beautiful piece of work. It really is.”

The new statue of Abigail Adams will be heroic-sized, roughly seven feet tall, the same stature of the other two statues on the common. Like the other two statues, it will also be uplit at night.

Before construction of the new Hancock-Adams Common began, the city had planned to include a total of four new statues within the park – sculptures of John, Abigail and John Quincy Adams, as well as one of John Hancock. Two of the statues – those of John Adams and John Hancock – were included in the final plan for the new park, while the city planned to dedicate a proposed performing arts center elsewhere in Quincy Center to Abigail Adams and fellow first lady Louisa Adams.

In the recent interview, Koch called the new statue of Abigail Adams “a perfect alternative” to naming the performing arts center after the first lady.

“In the original plan we contemplated [statues of] Abigail and John Quincy but, not knowing the full scale of the park at that time, what was going to happen for development at the Quincy Center [station], we didn’t carry that theme all the way to the station. If you look, you’ve got concrete sidewalks versus brick and granite. There is a reason for that, because we didn’t want to be digging up things again,” Koch said, referring to the original plan for the new common.

“Then we thought about the performing arts center and quite frankly, that has taken longer, so I understand the impatience of people. I think this is a perfect alternative. I think everybody seems to be happy with it.

“And she’s in the heart of the common”

When asked about creating a new statue of the nation’s sixth president, Koch said that, “we’re going to be dealing with John Quincy Adams at some point.”

In an interview earlier this fall, the mayor said the proposed performing arts center would likely be dedicated to those in the creative arts who hail from Quincy, such as actresses Ruth Gordon and Lee Remick, musician Dick Dale, or writer John Cheever.

SIGN AND AMERICAN FLAGS decorate the front of the James R. McIntyre Government Center (old City Hall) leading up to Saturday’s dedication of the new Abigail Adams statue at the Hancock-Adams Common. Ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. The public is invited to attend. Quincy Sun Photo/Robert Bosworth
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