Special to the Patriot-Bridge
On Saturday, June 17, the Bunker Hill Monument Association (BHMA) held its 200th Annual Meeting in the Community Room of the Bunker Hill Museum. Under the gavel of BHMA President Annette Tecce, the Officers presented reports from the Committees that included a report from the Treasurer, Tom Coots, indicating that the Association was financially solid and a report from Bill Foley, Chair of the By-Laws Committee proposing a number of changes to the Association’s By-Laws. The motion to accept the revisions to the By-Laws was accepted. Speakers for the program included Superintendent Michael Creasey of the National Park Service who reported on the activities at various local NPS locations. Supt. Creasey also discussed the preparation for repairs to the Bunker Hill Monument cap stones and some of the preparations that are underway for the celebration of the Country’s 250th Anniversary in 2025. The assembly was also treated to a presentation by Alan Hoffman, President of the MA Lafayette Society, who described the major events along the way of the “Farewell Tour” of General Lafayette in 1824-25. Mr. Hoffman’s profound knowledge of Lafayette was demonstrated throughout his presentation by his artful juxtaposition of historical facts and interesting anecdotes. Mr. Hoffman’s presentation was very well received by the assembly and it was followed by a very active question and answer session The Report of President Tecce included a summary of the Association’s activities over the year including the progress toward a formal Agreement between the BHMA and the NPS as well as a number of changes designed to improve communication among members of the Association. In addition, the President described briefly a project the BHMA will undertake over the upcoming year to restore three historically important oil paintings. The three oil paintings are full-length portraits of George Washington, Andrew Jackson, and Daniel Webster. All the paintings date to the 1850’s and were given to the municipality of Charlestown by its citizens who commissioned and paid for the paintings by public subscription. Ownership of the paintings was first vested in the City of Charlestown which transferred that ownership to the City of Boston upon Charlestown’s annexation by Boston in 1874, with the proviso that the paintings remain forever within Charlestown. The paintings first hung in Charlestown City Hall in City Square, specifically in the Council Chamber and later in the rooms occupied by the Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library upon annexation to Boston. When the City Hall was demolished in 1917 and replaced by the current “Municipal Building”-cum-District Courthouse, the paintings were displayed in the new Branch Library building on Monument Square (now the site of the Bunker Hill Museum). When that building was replaced by the current Branch Library building in Thompson Square in 1970, the paintings were placed in the courtroom of the Charlestown District Court, it having the high ceilings necessary to accommodate the tall paintings. In that environment, the paintings have become dingy and grimy from airborne pollution and damaged from vandalism. If left in their present venue, their condition will continue to deteriorate and their exposure to further vandalism is a hazard to their continued existence. Restoring these invaluable pieces of art to their former glory and making them available to the Charlestown community and general public will take time and will require resources that the BHMA will need to develop. However, the long term benefit of adding these important works to the collection of Revolutionary War related artifacts seems well worth the effort. Anyone who wishes further information is urged to visit the BHMA website at www.bunkerhillmonumentassn.org.