By Seth Daniel
For perhaps a generation, the stone monuments on the sides of the John Harvard Mall had important historic information on them, but the condition of the markers prevented most of that from being communicated to residents and tourists passing through the old mall.
This week, that has all changed.
Ivan Myjer and his stone-conservator company moved in last week to begin work on the markers and the pedestal in the center of the newly restored mall – with renovations to the park being unveiled last fall.
The restoration of the markers, said Debra Sordillo and Don Giambastiani of the Friends of John Harvard Mall, came as the final piece of the restoration puzzle.
They said the Browne Fund awarded the Friends a grant about four years ago when former President Jennifer Smart was heading up the organization.
“The park just wasn’t ready for it though,” said Sordillo.
This summer, after the major renovations, it was quite ready.
Last Friday, the lettering on the John Harvard pedestal, long lost to the flecks and formations of the granite, were brought out once again by painter John Coles – who also painted a circular mural of the Battle of Bunker Hill about 10 years ago in the Bunker Hill Museum.
Additionally, Myjer and his son helped to clean and re-set the mortar and brick around the side markers – revealing wonderful historic information that had been lost to the muck built up over generations.
Myjer actually specializes in such work, having worked as close by as Boston Common for the Friends of the Public Garden and as far away as Texas and South Carolina.
“We work on pretty much all the stone markers for the City of Boston,” he said. “We work for the Friends of the Public Garden on Boston Common, the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum and we worked on the Civil War Monuments here in Charlestown a few years ago…This is pretty much what we do, and there aren’t many of us who do this. We don’t do brass markers. We focus on stone and sculpture, particularly public ones…We are definitely specialists.”
Myjer said they have enjoyed being in the Mall so far this summer, and are getting a lot done.
He did caution that the south wall in the mall is in bad shape, and will need some attention soon.
“Ultimately, the city will have to re-build the wall,” he said. “It has some structural problems where water has gotten in.”
Sordillo and Giambastiani said they have also improved the mall this summer via the Charlestown Community Mitigation Fund – getting $2,500 this year to purchase two large planters and put flowers in them.
“We were actually able to use a Charlestown company, OffShoots, Inc. for that,” he said. “They ended up being the only people who could do the design, deliver the planter…plant them and get them in place. They were perfect, A to Z, and they were local, too, which was great.”
They hope to be able to purchase more planters in the future thought the fund as well.