LAWRENCE — From the hands of an art student comes a portrait that puts a face on Lawrence’s history and invites visitors to Stockton Park to learn about these people.
The portrait was unveiled at a rededication ceremony in November on a grassy triangle with a distinctive fountain, benches and flagpole.
Located at the busy intersection of Winthrop Avenue and South Union Street.
Many Laurentians only know of Stockton Park when passing by by car or on foot.
Celine Blanc, a Lawrence High School senior who created two portraits for the project, has driven by the landmark many times, but on Wednesday morning she saw it. It was my first time visiting there.
She and Heather Langlois, the district’s director of visual and performing arts, gave a sneak peek of the portrait and reflected on the value of the project.
After painting a charcoal portrait of Dr. Susan Crocker in early summer, Celine became curious about the doctor’s life.
Celine learned how Crocker started a nursery school in the 1870s to help the children of working women.
Then, in 1877, Crocker and a group of women founded Lawrence General Hospital.
Celine, fellow Lawrence High School junior Sydney Xuan-Meese, alumnus Stephanie Lima and Langlois created the portraits.
In addition to learning about Crocker, park visitors will also learn about U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez was killed in action during Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq. and Corporal Greg Kent, a U.S. Marine who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.
Also on display is a portrait of the park’s namesake, Howard Stockton, a Civil War veteran and Essex Company treasurer who advocated the donation of land for the public good.
Also on display is a portrait of Abbot Lawrence. Abbott of Lawrence helped fund the industrial base that created the city of Lawrence, named after him and his family.
Organizers of the project include City Council President Marc LaPlante and Lawrence Cultural Council Chair Patricia Mariano.
They envision the city as a place to learn and understand the city.
“We see this as a great opportunity to celebrate those who have contributed,” LaPlante said. “I think of it as a living monument that should be changed from time to time.”
The plan is to establish a committee to decide who will receive the honor and find an artist to paint the portrait.
The park has a prominent location in the city and has undergone extensive renovations in recent years, including new benches, landscaping, and art panels.
The park’s fountain was previously dedicated to the late Roger Toomey, a lifelong Laurentian and longtime City Council member who passed away in 2020 at the age of 89.
Saturday’s rededication will be commemorated with a coin recognizing the students’ efforts and projects.
A limited number of tickets will be distributed to attendees on Saturday.
LaPlante and Mariano consulted with the Lawrence History Center about selecting women for recognition, given the lack of monuments in the city recognizing the contributions of women.
Centers Kathy Flynn and Amita Kiley immediately remembered Crocker.
“She was a remarkable woman who founded a hospital that continues to grow today, serving the needs of a growing city and its children,” Kiley said.