Newburyport, George Washington Statue

Way back a year ago, January 27, 2006, I wrote this as part of a post for the Newburyport Political Blog:

“Todd Woodworth, one of Newburyport’s beloved local historians, told me a fascinating story. Now, because Todd Woodworth told it to me, I believe it is true. (I’ll admit, I haven’t double and triple checked it with Todd.)

Todd Woodworth told me a story about the statue of George Washington that is at the Newburyport Mall (which for those of you who have never been to Newburyport, is on historic High Street above Newburyport’s historic downtown.)

Apparently after completing the statue of George Washington, the artist was so upset with the people of Newburyport that he put his own name below the statue on the marble pedestal instead of George Washington’s name.

According to my conversation with Todd, it took the Newburyport Historical Commission 50 years to get the City of Newburyport to change the name from the artist and put George Washington’s name below the statue instead.”

Many readers of the Newburyport Political Blog thought that this was a fascinating story, but that it was probably an “urban legend.”

In my experience, Todd Woodworth was never one to make things up (especially historic things up).

And low and behold in the Newburyport Archival Center at the Newburyport Public Library (the Newburyport Archival Center is also online on the city’s website- really amazing stuff) there is an old photograph of the statue of George Washington (I do not know what year it is.)

Statue of George Washington
Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center
at the Newburyport Public Library

One of the interesting things about this photo is that it looks like the statue is connected to the promenade of the Bartlet Mall, just the way (I believe) the promenade was originally designed. (There is now a small strip of roadway separating the statue of George Washington and the rest of the Bartlet Mall.)

And in “zooming in” on the name below the statue of George Washington at the Bartlet Mall, this is what I saw.

The inscription below
the statue of George Washington.
Courtesy of the Newburyport Archival Center
at the Newburyport Public Library

Not the name of (George) “Washington” folks. It looks to me to be something like, “Presented by Daniel I. Tenney.”

I wanted to run over and tell Todd Woodworth what I had found. But of course Todd would have known all about the Newburyport Public Library Photo Archives and for that matter ever other photo archive in the city of Newburyport and the surrounding areas.

But Todd Woodworth would never have said that. Instead he would have just smiled and had that wonderful Todd Woodworth “twinkle” in his warm and very wise eyes.

Mary Eaton