For generations, a rusty anchor with a broken concrete base has resided in South Boston’s Marine Park. Children would climb the 1,900-pound structure as others walked past the USS Kearsarge memorial, which has been a park fixture for nearly a century.
On Tuesday, a crowd of state and local officials — including Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu — gathered in the park to celebrate the renovation of the sculpture, which is dedicated to all US Navy veterans.
Wu emphasized that the sculpture, while part of a vibrant urban park, has a solemn purpose. “It’s important in these quiet moments, when kids are just playing at the playground, or a couple is taking a walk on their way to Sully’s, to have this here, quietly reminding us every single minute of every day of the year just what the cost of our freedom and liberty is.”
Erected in 1930, the memorial originally honored Navy veterans from the Civil War, Spanish War, and World War I. Its completion was celebrated with a 1,000-person parade. It was named after the USS Kearsarge, a famed warship that first garnered recognition for hunting Confederate raiders and whose namesake is still part of the Navy, currently deployed in Europe.
Now, the refurbished anchor sculpture sits atop a new base made of Vermont granite, according to Skylight Studios sculptor Robert Shure, who was in charge of the project. The $164,000, multi-year renovation was funded by a combination of city and state dollars. It received a Community Preservation Act grant that was later matched by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.
Dave Falvey, an Army veteran and president of the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, said he first applied for the grant on behalf of South Boston residents after hearing about an “old anchor in Marine Park ... that was in rough shape.”
“Just to see a project from the idea and concept of it to completion and what it is now, it looks really cool and feels pretty meaningful,” Falvey said. “God willing, someday when I’m older, I’ll walk by that with my kids and be like, ‘You know, I had a big hand in that.’”
Though the celebration was modest, over 50 people gathered to hear speakers fondly recount their childhood memories of climbing the “big anchor” and praise the conservation efforts involved. The event, held on an idyllic summery day, concluded with ice cream all around.
Lifelong South Boston resident John Walsh recalled climbing the structure with his five brothers — and then watching his three sons do the same.
“It’s nice to recognize the sacrifice that these guys gave this country and to have it restored now for the years to come, and hopefully people notice that we pay attention to what the military is doing for us to preserve our freedoms,” Walsh said, holding a picture of his then-16-year-old mother posing on the anchor decades ago. “It needed rehab, and they did a great job on it.”
Anjali Huynh was a Globe intern in 2022.Follow her on Twitter @anjalihuynh.