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Bronze footprints of former Mayor White replaced at Faneuil Hall

Posted by Jeremy C. Fox  January 12, 2012 03:08 PM

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before and after footprints.jpg

(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)

Seven bronze footprints that were missing from the front plaza at Faneuil Hall last spring (as seen at left) have been replaced by the city.

The city has replaced seven stolen pieces of a statue honoring former Boston Mayor Kevin White, officials said this week.

City officials returned to the statue’s sculptor, Bolivian-born Gloucester resident Pablo Eduardo, and asked him to cast new bronze footprints to replace those stolen in 2010. The new footprints were quietly installed on Oct. 21.

The cost of replacement was paid for by the city’s Edward Ingersoll Browne Fund for the improvement of public spaces and included $10,400 for the fabrication of the new footprints and $1,526 for installation.

Michael Galvin, the city’s chief of public property, said the new footprints were embedded deeper in the ground than the original set and designed to leave not even the smallest gap with the surrounding granite, making them very difficult to pry up. Still, he couldn’t promise that someday another enterprising thief wouldn’t find a way to remove the new set.

“People with enough time on their hands are very imaginative,” Galvin said. “I never say never in this business, but we’ve done the best we can to ensure that it makes it very difficult to remove.”

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(Jeremy C. Fox for Boston.com)
The statue of former Mayor Kevin H. White.
Galvin said that after first seeing the new designs, he personally sent the new footprints back to the sculptor to have him devise a more secure anchor. Galvin took some flak for the extra time that took, he said, but the security of the new footprints was the most important thing.

“Did I get hit over the head for it? Yes I did,” he said. “But that’s the job that we’re in.”

Mayor Thomas M. Menino commissioned the statue in December 2005 and unveiled it on Nov. 1, 2006 — All Saints Day. The statue depicts White, who served as mayor from 1968 to 1984, striding away from City Hall with a furrowed brow and a jacket casually slung over his left shoulder.

White led the city through a period of economic stagnation and racial hostility, serving more years in office than any other Boston mayor until Menino surpassed his record in 2009. Now 82, White lives on Beacon Hill and is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

At 10 feet, the statue is larger than life, like the former mayor himself. Particularly large are the hands, feet, and the corresponding footprints that mark White’s progress toward the historic marketplace he revitalized in the 1970s.

Seven of those bronze footprints were stolen in 2010, one in late summer and the other six in mid-December. They were never recovered, and the thieves have not been caught. Galvin believes they took advantage of the ease of melting and selling precious metals.

“Five minutes later, you could melt those footprints down, so they would disappear,” he said.

Email Jeremy C. Fox at jeremycfox@gmail.com.
Follow Jeremy C. Fox on Twitter: @jeremycfox.
Follow Downtown on Twitter: @DowntownUpdate.

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