To the editor:
If you’ve been by City Hall’s Dale Avenue entrance in the past few weeks, you might have noticed that the gardens have been redone – old bushes were removed and new plantings installed.
This work was made possible by private donors and coordinated by J.J. Bell, brother of the late Holly Bell Cook. Before Holly passed away in late 2010 she requested that any donations in her memory be made to her two favorite Gloucester spires – City Hall being one of these, the UU church the other.
The generosity of people was amazing and, in determining how best to honor Holly’s memory, it was decided to also note her love of gardening. Together with members of the Cape Ann Garden Club, of which Holly was a member and who have long maintained the Warren Street entrance garden, J.J. worked with the landscape designer Clara Batcheldor. Clara, who created the Cape Ann Museum’s sculpture garden, generously and graciously, donated her services for the City Hall project.
This project, like the all-volunteer effort to restore the weathervane, symbolizes the respect that people have for our historic City Hall.
These efforts, and many others, constantly remind me of the comments that former First Lady Laura Bush made about Gloucester at a Preserve America conference. Her speech included the statement that “Historic preservation has the power to unite us, entire communities, through a desire to preserve our shared heritage.”
So when spontaneous rounds of applause greet comments about the restoration of City Hall, I am so proud of all those who have contributed, and continue to contribute, to these efforts.
The gardens and the weathervane stand out as distinct symbols of people doing something because they feel united in preserving Gloucester’s shared heritage.
Chair, City Hall Restoration Commission