Public regains access to JFK State House statue

The John F. Kennedy statue overlooking the State House lawn and Boston Common is againavailable for close-up viewing to the wider public.

The public will be able to view the statue of the former US president seasonally, through October, starting at 9:30 a.m. and ending at 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Department of Conservation and Recreation rangers will be available by the statue for security purposes. To visit the statue, members of the public will have to pass through security checks at the State House entrances by the Gen. Joseph Hooker statue and Ashburton Park.

Access to the statue was restricted after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but visitors still sometimes request to view it.
The current fiscal 2015 budget contains an increase in Department of Conservation and Recreation funding to provide the seasonal access. The cost of two seasonal rangers is about $45,000, according to the department.

“It’s an important piece of Massachusetts history,” said Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesman Bill Hickey.
Hickey said tour groups may be able to include the statue as a stop on their route through the State House.

The fiscal 2015 budget also directed the department to conduct a feasibility study on increasing access to the statue and opening the Beacon Street gates near the statue.

The confidential study, which was filed in March and obtained by the News Service, laid out five different options, including the possible relocation of the statue or setting up a special screening facility in front of the Beacon Street entrance.
The statue is located close to the offices of the governor and other lawmakers.

The feasibility study, prepared by Good Harbor Techmark LLC, suggested potentially relocating the statue closer to Beacon Street and creating a “mini well” that would allow visitors to view it. The one-time expense of moving the statue would add up to $176,000, according to the study.

Commissioning another study, this one focused on moving the statue off the State House grounds, is another option, the Good Harbor Techmark study said, though “consensus on an alternative location could be difficult.”

In a letter attached to the study, State Police Lt. Colonel Edward Amodeo told the DCR commission that the State Police would support the relocation of the statue or the construction of a screening facility.

Constructing a screening facility could be costly. Rangers would also need to staff the facility, which would also carry costs.
The statue was briefly open to the public in November 2013, the fiftieth anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.

The statue, eight feet high, was unveiled on a rainy day in May 1990, according to News Service archives. A special commission chose the sculptor, Isabel McIlvain of Concord, and raised the $300,000 for the statue.

Before the statue was unveiled on that day, Dave Powers, a Kennedy adviser, told the News Service he approved of the design which showed the former president appearing to walk forward with determination.

“This is how I remember him, bare-headed, confident, striding through history,” Powers said.

“He must have walked by that site 1,000 times,” Powers added. “Not only that, it’s in his (congressional) district, a stone’s throw from where he lived at 122 Bowdoin St. So it’s kind of like home.”