A rendering of the most recent design concept by Sasaki, a Boston-based design firm, for the planned memorial in Concord Center. Courtesy image

Video: Take a sneak peek at the proposed Concord250 memorial

By Anne O’Connor  Anne@theconcordbridge.org
January 23, 2024


Since Concord started putting up memorials, honoring the events and people of the town, expectations have changed. 

Granite, hard and cold, is no longer the material of choice. Honoring a diverse population who helped shape society is in favor, according to members of the 250th Permanent Memorial Subcommittee. 

Chair Gary Clayton, who is also the chair of the 250th Executive Committee, and member Polly Reeves spoke about the process of deciding what should be installed on a lot of land on Monument Square between the rectory and a driveway to public parking. 

Public input is playing a key role. “We’re trying to put together something that people can support,” Reeves said. 

More than 75 enthusiastic members of the public turned out to learn about the planned memorial near Monument Square and to share their thoughts on January 17 at the Goodwin Forum at the Concord Free Public Library. Photo courtesy of Polly Reeves

So far, the subcommittee has held three meetings to find out what people want and to get feedback based on community preferences on conceptual designs provided by Sasaki, a Boston-based design firm. 

A reflective place commemorating the work of social justice trailblazers, where both visitors and townsfolk can gather, is the planned outcome. 

The work and words of voices that have not always been heard, such as women, Blacks, Indigenous people and other people of color, will be honored. 

The honorees have not yet been chosen. “We have a lot of research to do,” Reeves said. 

Concord’s Louisa May Alcott, who was one of the first woman to vote in Concord in 1880, and Henry David Thoreau, whose concept of civil disobedience echoes to this day, are the type of people they have in mind. 

The most recent iteration of the design concept, unveiled to the public on January 17, includes an area of six-foot-tall glass towers close to Monument Square inscribed with stories and words of inspiring people and those they inspired. 

The sturdy glass is softer and more engaging than granite, Reeves said. 

Across the lawn, benches will allow people to rest, picnic and gather. Right now, Clayton said, if someone wants to sit in the center of Concord, their most likely perch is stone. Not only is it uncomfortable with no place to rest the back, but, for a good part of the year, the weather is just too cold for sitting on a rock. 

Plantings are planned in the area. A scrubby area, now filled with invasives, will likely be filled with native plants. Trees may line the lot along the property line with the rectory. 

A wall, about two feet tall and 120 feet long along the tree line, might be planned to trace the history of the land back 12,000 years. The last 250 years will be just a short portion of the length, Clayton said. 

Later, the path could be extended, leading pedestrians to Mill Brook and nearby Chamberlin Park, Reeves said. 

Once plans for the accessible memorial are more firmed up and get the go-ahead from Concord Public Works, the Historic District Commission and the Select Board, fundraising can begin. 

Volunteers will help identify and approach major and corporate donors, Reeves said. 

Hopefully, the conceptual design will be complete later this spring, Clayton said. 

The subcommittee received $75,000 from the town manager’s budget in 2023 for developing a design. 

That money probably does not reflect all the work Sasaki has done, Reeves said. They have come to the public meetings and have already researched some of the people who may be included in the memorial. 

The firm has a special connection to town, she said. One of the designers at Sasaki has an art studio at The Umbrella. 

In addition to a memorial near Monument Square, the subcommittee is working with Concord Public Works to plant 250 shade and ornamental trees in town and with the library to preserve veterans’ documents.