Boston wasn’t close to being the windiest place in New England over the past few days, but conditions Sunday were still blustery enough to knock over the Ben Franklin statue, which has stood in front of Boston’s Old City Hall for more than 150 years.
The bronze statue was placed on the original site of Boston Latin (which Franklin attended before dropping out) in 1856. It’s the city’s oldest — and first — portrait statue, and until Sunday, no one thought it would fall.
“We were relieved that no one was injured or hurt. It’s a very big, heavy statue,” Sean McDonnell, president of the Architectural Heritage Foundation (AHF), which maintains Old City Hall, told Boston.com. “We don’t think the statue was damaged, however, we don’t know.”
On Sunday, a tent in nearby courtyard was caught in a gust of wind, blowing into the statue — which wasn’t secured to the base — and knocking it the ground, McDonnell said.
For now, Franklin is tipped against the base, wrapped in a black tarp. The plan is to gently lower him to the ground and move him to Watertown, where sculpture conservators can take a closer look to check for damage, McDonnell said.
After assessing the historic statue, the AHF, working with Boston city officials and a sculpture curator, plan to determine a way to secure it, preventing it from future falls.
“The statue was installed before the building was ever built. There’s no indication that it was ever attached to the base,” McDonnell said. “We also have no record of it ever falling over.”