QUINCY – Work is underway in downtown Quincy to install the base for a new, life-sized statue of Abigail Adams, and an existing sculpture of the first lady and her son has been moved to Merrymount Park.
Italian sculptor Sergei Eylanbekov has carved a statue of Abigail on the same scale as the existing sculptures of John Hancock and John Adams on the Hancock-Adams Common in front of city hall. The new statue, which comes after a group of residents rallied for first lady representation downtown, will be installed in November next to United First Parish Church.
"We are excited to honor Abigail and her contributions to our democracy with this new statue on the same scale as her husband and that of John Hancock in the common," Mayor Thomas Koch said. "It has always been my intention to recognize her as the important historical figure she is, and we are excited to unveil the statue in the coming weeks."
Message from protesters: 'Bring Back Abigail'
About 100 residents rallied in front of the Church of the Presidents in March after it was revealed that a statue of Abigail and her 10-year-old son, who would one day be president, was to be placed in Merrymount Park. The statue was commissioned by a group of private citizens alongside one of Abigail's husband, President John Adams, and both were situated for years on opposite sides of Hancock Street to depict a relationship marked by separation.
The statue of Abigail by Lloyd Lillie stood in Quincy Center for years, but was put into storage during construction of the Hancock-Adams Common five years ago. The statue of the first lady has been out of the public eye ever since, but a handsome new statue of John Adams by Eylanbekov stands as the focal point of Quincy Center. Since the statue of Abigail was first moved, there has been no mention of her or her contributions to history in the newly revamped area of downtown.
Protesters this spring said they were against moving the statue of the first lady to a place of lesser prominence, and they carried signs with messages such as "Don't send me to Merrymount Park," "Please return us to a place of prominence" and "Bring Back Abigail."
"(Abigail) should be right there, taking an equal spot with her spouse," said Karen Cobb, one of the residents who rallied in March. "They were partners in life."
After the rally, Koch met with residents about how to honor Abigail, whom he has called "the most important woman of her generation." He said he had initially planned to honor both Abigail and Louisa Catherine Adams, John Quincy Adams' wife, at a future performing arts center downtown, but chose to instead commission a piece from Eylanbekov following the protest. Koch said he doesn't yet know how the city will honor Louisa Catherine.
Plans to move the Lloyd Lillie statue to Merrymount stayed in place, and it was installed late last week. The performing arts center will likely no longer honor the first ladies, Koch said, but instead might honor famous performers from the city such as actresses Lee Remick and Ruth Gordon.
The 7-foot bronze statue of Abigail will be unveiled at a ceremony at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 5 on the Hancock-Adams Common, 1305 Hancock St.
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Reach Mary Whitfill at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Sculptor Sergei Eylanbekov carves life-size statue of Abigail Adams