Cyrus E. Dallin and the Prado Concern

North End resident Ofer Tamir takes his six-month-old puppy Zuma for a stroll around by Dallin’s Paul Revere statue. While the Prado makes an excellent location for such activities, the Parks and Open Space committee members fear that if it does not receive public attention it will become, “just another dog park.”

The sculpted likeness of the American patriot Paul Revere should have been the first creation by illustrious sculptor Cyrus E. Dallin.  He arrived in Boston at nineteen unknown and fresh from Utah, with little money in his pocket, looking to make a name for himself. Soon after Dallin entered a local competition searching for sculptors to design a rendering of the American Revolution’s celebrated horseman. He won, twice. However, due to a series of unfortunate circumstances- many revolving on resentment that Dallin was not an established artist- the statue of Paul Revere remained unconstructed. Dallin never gave up hope. 57 years later the sculpture was finally erected in the North End Prado. The monument that should have been Dallin’s first masterpiece was finally built as his last.

In commemoration of Dallin’s addition to the region, The North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association’s Parks and Open Space Committee is hosting celebration of the Prado, also known as The Paul Revere Mall, for Dallin’s 150th birthday.

At a meeting on March 6, the committee discussed the fear that public interest is waning in the historical significance of the park. Members hope a celebratory event might increase awareness. “The more people that know about the historical value and stories behind the Prado the more we can protect it,” says committee head David Kubiak.

The Prado, constructed in 1934 by landscape architecture Arthur A. Shurcliff, is a small but appealing park built to mitigate the congested streets of the North End as a community common space between the Old North Church and St. Stephen Catholic Church. Its southwest wall is covered with plaques commemorating the integral impact the region had on the nation’s birth and growth, a history that is a vibrant fiber woven throughout the fabric of the entire North End.

When Queen Elizabeth visited Boston America’s bicentennial she made a point to traverse the park and admire Dallin’s work. “She could have just taken a limo to the church, but she got of at Hanover and walked through the crowds,” says committee member David Roderick. The Prado is important to many people.

“It [the park] was designed to be low maintenance, so it gets no maintenance,” says Reverend Stephen Ayres of the Old North Church, and member of the group the Friends of the Prado. Ayres says that over time the park has deteriorated to the point where it is no longer simple to fix. “The whole Prado needs a massive overhaul.”  “I’m going to keep pushing, and I think the group should keep pushing for long term management plan for the Prado,” says Kubiack. The group has listed 77 problems including severe infrastructure failure in the aging bricks, which are uneven to the point that rain does not drain properly. This can result in the creation of hazardous wintertime ice pockets.

The planning committee anticipates that the event will attract North End residents, tourists, and followers of the freedom trail, which the Prado intersects. They also intent to garner members and support for the Friends of the Prado with the hope that a 20 year plan can be implemented for the restoration of the park.

“This is a celebration not just in the Prado, but of the Prado,” says committee historian Ann Pistario of the event, which will be held on April 29th from noon to 4. The committee is still determining the exact logistics, but booths will be stationed around the park hosted by different historical groups including the Friends of the Prado, the Cyrus Dallin museum in Arlington, the North End Historical society, and Paul Revere memorial association.

The committee is currently looking for assistance of any persons or businesses willing to be a part of the work group or contribute funds. More information can be obtained by contacting parks@NEWRA.org.