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Old 05-18-2013, 11:34 PM   #1
billski
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In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Hi all,

I joined this forum in the hopes that we might be able to brainstorm on the whereabouts of a missing architectural lion. It's of interest to me as an alumni and unofficial historian of the Cambridge School, which resided in that building from 1958 to 1964*. The school's mascot, a lion was inspired by these sculptures.

As some of you know, the former Kensington Building (a.k.a., the Hotel Kensington) was across from the Boston Public Library at 687 Boylston St. had two lions which flanked the front.

The lions were sculpted in 1899 by Alexander Pope, a Boston Artist when the building was erected.

The Kensington was razed in 1967. The lions on ground level guarded the vacant lot until they were removed to the Copley Plaza hotel in 1974.

So here's the rub. When the building was constructed, a third lion was placed atop the Kensington. Some unknown years later, the lion was removed due to safety concerns regarding its weight. It's destination is unknown.

The first image (New Old Copley Church under construction) is from 1929.
The other two are from 1931. Photos courtesy of the Boston Public Library.










I read your earlier thread,
http://www.archboston.org/community/...ensington+lion
but felt this needed a separate topic.

I wonder who at Harvard would know the whereabouts of the uncovered lions. Thoughts or suggestions? Thanks!

* - The Cambridge School (of Broadcasting, of Business) was the predecessor to the now-defunct Grahm Junior College, which removed to Kenmore Square in 1964. During the "Kensington Years", GJC owned or rented houses on Exeter and Comm Avenue for use as dormitories.

Last edited by billski; 05-18-2013 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 05-19-2013, 06:56 AM   #2
BostonZest
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

The Smithsonian has a folder of papers on Pope and a small collection of his work. You might try to contact a curator there to see what they might know.

http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?tag.cstype=all&q=Pope%2C+Alexander+184 9-1924&start=0}

Description of the folder, "may include exhibition announcements, newspaper and/or magazine clippings, press releases, brochures, reviews, invitations, illustrations, resumes, artist's statements, exhibition catalogs."

Here is the record link with contact information for that folder.
http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollect...s.cfm?id=39135
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:05 AM   #3
billski
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Thanks Bostonzest, it never would have even occurred to me to look at the Smithsonian. I'll give them a ring. Which inspires me, perhaps the BPL has more than just photographs of Pope.
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:26 AM   #4
JonFrum
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Where did you get the claim that the lion was taken down because of its weight? I suspect that if each floor could hold the floors above it, the top floor could hold the lion without collapsing. Am I missing something here? That lion can't weight much more than 2-3 big fat guys. I would have guessed that they were afraid that the wind would blow it over in a storm or traffic vibrations would weaken it.
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Old 05-19-2013, 11:21 AM   #5
bbfen
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Why did this need a separate topic? We all read threads that get bumped.
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Old 05-19-2013, 12:03 PM   #6
JonFrum
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Quote:
Originally Posted by bbfen View Post
Why did this need a separate topic? We all read threads that get bumped.

Are you afraid that a second thread on a single topic will rip the fabric of the space-time continuum?
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Old 05-19-2013, 04:36 PM   #7
billski
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Quote:
Originally Posted by JonFrum View Post
Where did you get the claim that the lion was taken down because of its weight? I suspect that if each floor could hold the floors above it, the top floor could hold the lion without collapsing. Am I missing something here? That lion can't weight much more than 2-3 big fat guys. I would have guessed that they were afraid that the wind would blow it over in a storm or traffic vibrations would weaken it.
Source:
A new lair for lions, Boston Globe, page 8, July 27, 1974

The lions at the building entryway weighed three tons and made of concrete
Source:
18-story apartment building to rise where lions sat in Back Bay, Boston Globe, page A_47, Dec 8, 1974
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:50 PM   #8
billski
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Take a look at the grating that is affixed to the 4th floor. I'd like to know what that is for. It must be for a significant purpose, since it does nothing to enhance the building's attractiveness.

All the floor configurations are identical. These are all apartments. I wonder if it has anything to do with the lion atop....
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:44 PM   #9
JonFrum
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Quote:
Originally Posted by billski View Post
Source:
A new lair for lions, Boston Globe, page 8, July 27, 1974

The lions at the building entryway weighed three tons and made of concrete
Source:
18-story apartment building to rise where lions sat in Back Bay, Boston Globe, page A_47, Dec 8, 1974

That quote doesn't respond to the question. You said this:

" Some unknown years later, the lion was removed due to safety concerns regarding its weight."

How do you know that the lion on the roof was removed due to safety concerns regarding its weight?
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:45 PM   #10
JonFrum
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

Quote:
Originally Posted by billski View Post
Take a look at the grating that is affixed to the 4th floor. I'd like to know what that is for. It must be for a significant purpose, since it does nothing to enhance the building's attractiveness.

All the floor configurations are identical. These are all apartments. I wonder if it has anything to do with the lion atop....

What you're calling grating is also on the second floor, directly under the other one.
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Old 09-09-2015, 10:08 AM   #11
JohnAKeith
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Re: In search of the lost lion of the Kensington Building

These aren't the granite lions but anyone happen to know if the lions in front of the Capital Grille on Boylston have any historic significance?

(Is this a question that's asked every couple of months?)

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