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A new Abigail Adams statue to be created in Quincy Center

People gathered last month to demand the return of the Abigail Adams statue back to Quincy Center.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

A new statue of Abigail Adams is planned for the Hancock-Adams Common in Quincy, ending a heated public controversy over the best way to honor America’s second first lady.

A statue of Adams with her young son and future president, John Quincy Adams, had once stood in the park that also has a statue of her husband, President John Adams, and John Hancock, another Quincy resident and leader of the American Revolution.

But the statue of Abigail was removed from the park in the city center when the area underwent reconstruction. The common reopened to great fanfare in 2018.


The city proposed relocating the statue to nearby Merrymount Park, and naming a new performance arts center in honor of Abigail Adams and Louisa Catherine Adams, the nation’s sixth first lady.

Angry residents, who said the plan downplayed Abigail Adams’s role in history, opposed the idea. On Thursday, Mayor Thomas Koch announced the city had reversed course and will honor Adams with a new statue on the common.

“I listened, gave it a lot of thought, and really had a great discussion with the group. The bottom line is the arguments I’ve heard are right. That Abigail’s been part of our planning is not good enough. She’s not there now, and she belongs on the Common near her husband,” Koch said in the statement. “There is not a marriage that, as a couple, has had a greater influence on who we are as a people than John and Abigail Adams, and the Common is absolutely the right place for both of their contributions to be recognized.”

Claire Fitzmaurice, a resident who has been advocating for the old statue’s return, said she is pleased with the mayor’s decision.

“We are grateful that the Koch administration listened to the many citizens who believed it was important that Abigail be present in our downtown brand new park,” she said. “And we were grateful that he was willing to admit that we’re right.”


Fitzmaurice and many Quincy residents rallied last month at the United First Parish Church, where Abigail Adams was buried, protesting the move of the former statue to Merrymount Park, which is farther away from the busy city center.

Because a new statue is being created for the common, Fitzmaurice she’d like to see the old Abigail Adams statue moved to the Adams National Historical Park, potentially to The Old House at Peace field where the Adamses retired.

“There certainly is a desire for them to come out of storage where they’ve been for too long and to be on public display,” she said. “And I think they could be shown up to best advantage there, and so many tourists would be able to see those two statues there.”

Koch said the city’s original plan to relocate the structure to Merrymount Park will move forward.

That statue depicts Abigail Adams with a young John Quincy Adams as they watched smoke rise into the night sky during the Battle of Bunker Hill.

Emily Lebo, another resident and advocate, said that it was a good compromise for the city to create a new statue in the common after they had been advocating for the relocation of the old one, especially because the original plan had both Abigail’s statue and her husband’s face each other across the street in Quincy Center.


“I’m willing to accept that compromise because one of the concerns about relocating the former statue is that she would look diminished next to them,” she said. “I’m just glad she’s coming back to the Common and that she will be represented.”

Lebo said she hopes that the city will include her group in discussions about the design, placement, and text around the statue in the Hancock-Adams Common. She added that they would like the statue to be approachable, by not being as high up on a pedestal as the other statues.

“I’m hoping that she is depicted as a young, vibrant, important woman.” she said. “Also acknowledge her importance in the development of our union and our republic.”

Fitzmaurice said it was an “embarrassment of riches” that a region with a history of iconic women is not celebrating those like Abigail Adams and Dorothy Quincy Hancock, wife of John Hancock, to the fullest extent.

“We have so much history, we have so many women. How do you represent all of this when for centuries women were discounted, and now we’re looking around wanting to make up for lost time?”

The statue will be created by the same sculptor, Sergei Eylanbekov, who made the life-size likenesses of John Adams and John Hancock that are in the park. The mayor hopes for the statue to be completed and placed in the common by the fall, but it may be delayed if there are supply chain issues.


“We certainly support the mayor’s plans to have a sculpture made,” Fitzmaurice said. “At this point, what we don’t know is how or if we can be a part of the process and would very, very much love to be a part of the design process because I think women can bring a unique perspective to how to celebrate the life of an important woman.”

Globe correspondent Andrew Brinker contributed to this report.

Madison Mercado can be reached at madison.mercado@globe.com.