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November 14, 2013

Harvard Square sculpture Rockport-bound

Local developer saves Harvard Square sculpture from demolition

A Rockport developer has saved a Harvard Square sculpture from demolition, and the artwork will have a new home on the town’s waterfront in Pigeon Cove sometime next year.

Dimitri Hadzi (1921-2006), a Harvard art professor and sculptor, created the 20-foot-tall “Omphalos,” made from red and gray granite. Its new base will be made from Rockport granite, said Michael Rauseo, the new owner and redeveloper of the Cape Ann Tool Company site — and the new owner of the sculpture, which had been the property of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The sculpture was given to the MBTA by a Rhode Island woman in the early 1980s, when the Red Line was being extended from Harvard to Alewife, and it was erected on the bricked pedestrian island in the center of the bustling Cambridge square. The title of the artwork translates to “navel,” meaning center point.

Rauseo said Thursday he had contacted the MBTA after he read about the plight of the artwork in a Boston newspaper. The article indicated that the crumbling sculpture would be demolished because the MBTA could not pay to fix it — and if the transit authority could not give the artwork away.

“With our very limited financial resources, the MBTA could not commit the funds necessary to restore the sculpture,” said Joe Pesaturo, a MBTA spokesman.

A public art foundation in Newport News, Va., had offered to save the artwork, but the sculptor’s widow hoped that it would find a new location in the commonwealth, closer to home.

“I told the MBTA that we had a new home, and they were fantastic about it,” said Rauseo. “They had inquiries from other places, but I think we were the only spot in Massachusetts interested in taking it.”

Rauseo said the sculpture is in fairly good condition, except for a piece that had fallen off about a year ago. A fence was installed around it after that; and most recently, jersey barriers went up as the sculpture was prepared for its removal from Cambridge.

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