Hidden and Shadowy Boston Court Treasure

May 22nd, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

A chum led us to adumbral art treasures yesterday after we all toured the Gorey show at the Athenæum. That’s a tight little $5 exhibit worth the gawking (runs through June 4th).

The follow-up was like the secret clubhouse version nearby in the courthouse in Pemberton Square/Government Center, a.k.a. the John Adams Courthouse. It’s the theater of operations for the Supreme Judicial Court, the Social Law Library and the Appeals Court. To the point on an artsy afternoon, it got a rehab in 2005 and houses remarkable sculpture and architecture.

We got in on the weekend, on the coattails of an electronic pass and a key from a librarian. We can all tour it for free though. It is open from 8:30 AM to 5 PM weekdays. There’s also an uninspiring virtual tour, perhaps best illustrating why you should go and see for yourself. It’s dark inside and the sculpture is better in eyes that have adjusted than with ordinary cameras. I stick a couple of pix here and the next time I visit, I’ll bring something with more powerful flash.

As seems the wont in the neighborhood, the rehab was controversial. After all, this cheek to jowl with the much maligned Boston City Hall, an immigrant’s amble from the razed West End and closer to the bulldozer sanitized Scollay Square.

morafortitudeSo, when the $40 million rehab cost over three times that, it seemed like the normal way of Boston redevelopment. The Globe piece on its celebratory reopening on April Fool’s Day 2001 (pay or have subscriber access) seemed more pleased with the results than the journey to them.

moraguiltAmong those attending or speaking were Sen. Ted Kennedy, Mayor Thomas Menino, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, SJC Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, and really best of all, historian and author David McCullough. He defended the expenses as overdue honor to Adams. He said, “There’s no memorial to John Adams in our nation’s capital, no portrait on money, no postage stamp. But now we have this courthouse, and were he here today and maybe he is he would be as thrilled and gratified as any mortal could be.”

Regardless, you can help justify the cost by visiting and marveling at the ornate arched ceiling and particularly the allegorical statuary of Domingo Mora. So-so snaps of two of his larger-than-human tropes are here, Guilt (right) and Fortitude. The hall has a large grouping of the figures you appropriately must gaze up to see.

Had he not lived what should be every parent’s dream — children who are more accomplished, successful and famous than himself — this Mora would be the family pride. After moving to U.S. via Uruguay from his native Barcelona, he was a busy guy. His works range across America, including numerous pieces here. He was an architect as well as sculptor for the Emmanuel Church and the BPL features his statuary as well as nearly three dozen window spandrels.

In the visit down to Pemberton Square, revel in his hall of allegories and ideals.

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