Frederick Warren Allen


Boston Mayors Peters, Nichols and Mansfield, 1921-1937

Andrew J. Peters, Boston Mayor 1918-1922, bronze, F.W.Allen, Sculptor, 1921

Andrew J. Peters (1872-1938) was the 42nd Mayor of Boston when his portrait was cast in bronze by Frederick Warren Allen in 1921. His term ended the next year, but he liked the plaque so well that he ordered one for himself!

Notice in the enlargement the realistic details of the bushy eyebrows, the thin hair and the facial wrinkles. The Boston School of Artists believed in portraying their subjects honestly and naturally rather than idealizing them.

This was to be the first of three mayoral portraits done by Allen for the City of Boston for what Allen’s wife recorded as the “Hall of Fame” in Old City Hall. A plan to portray all of the mayors never was carried out, but these three hung in City Hall until it was gutted for renovation in 1969. A search is underway to find what happened to the art, but for now there is only one image to show, that of Mayor Peters.

LOST ART is being discovered and recorded by the Boston Art Commission, so if any reader knows where these portraits are located, please contact the author or the BAC.

F.W.Allen sculpted three such portraits 8 and 16 years after this photo was taken

Behind the group of photographers, on the wall, are ten round portrait reliefs in a framed display. This image is of James M. Curley (Wikipedia) in a press conference taken in the Boston City Council office in 1913. It shows the kind of portraits done by F.W.Allen and where they might have been hung in 1921 and 1937.

Peters was Mayor from 1918-1922 between Curley’s first and second of four terms. Nichols held the office from 1926-1930 between Curley’s second and third terms and Mansfield from 1934-1938 after his third term. Curley came back after Mayor Tobin’s long tenure from 1938-1945 for his fourth and final term. Allen portrayed Peters, Nichols and Mansfield.

Peters distinguished himself by graduating from Harvard and Harvard Law School, serving as a United States Congressman from 1907-1914, and as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury from 1914-1918 in the Woodrow Wilson administration. His election as Mayor of Boston followed, and in this capacity he served until 1922. His reputation became sullied by failing to act during the Boston Police strike and for an affair he had which became part of the story of Butterfield 8 by John O’Hara. He was also a patron of the arts and served as a Trustee Ex-Officio at the Museum of Fine Arts after the death of Abraham Shuman in 1918. It may have been Peters who recommended Allen for the job of doing the portraits. (Note that in the post on Shuman in the Important People gallery, he was generous in his support of the Boston City Hospital, owned and run by the city. The men may have known each other.)

Malcolm E. Nichols (1876-1951) also graduated from Harvard and served as both a Massachusetts Congressman and Senator after working as a political journalist. For sports fans, it was Nichols who signed the ordinance permitting Sunday sports on January 31, 1929. His term as Mayor lasted from 1926-1930.

Frederick W. Mansfield (1877-1958) was an attorney (Boston University School of Law), who served the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as its Treasurer and Receiver General for a two-year term in 1914 and 1915. He won a term as Mayor of Boston in 1934 and served the city until 1938. During his administration, a new city hospital building was constructed and seven schools. There is a scrapbook photo of Mansfield at the dedication ceremony of the Timilty School in Roxbury, MA where a portrait relief of Senator James P. Timilty was unveiled. F.W.Allen was the sculptor.  Just a side note, both the sculptor and the Mayor were named Frederick W.

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