Frederick Warren Allen


Church of the Advent, Boston, MA, 1931

Tympanum over the West Portal, Church of the Advent, Beacon Hill, Boston, MA, Ralph Adams Cram, Architect

As a memorial to the men of the Church of the Advent who died in World War I, a stone sculpture was ordered to be placed over the West Portal of the Episcopal church on Beacon Hill in Boston, MA. The project was planned by Cram and Ferguson, architects. A gift of Charles H. Fiske, the relief in the tympanum “portrays St. Gabriel and St. Michael in adoration before Our Lord and Saviour,” (Boston Herald) 1931.

Architect Ralph Adams Cram also designed Cole Memorial Chapel at Wheaton College for which F.W.Allen was commissioned to do a large stone tablet for the nave as a memorial to President Cole and a portrait relief of the first Mrs. Cole.

In the memoirs written by Agnes Allen, she mentions that he made a door for Cram (probably meaning this tympanum over the door). When he came to see it, he saw the Pediment of Archers that Allen had made (no images) and “went into ecstasies over it. He liked it so much that he wanted Fred to come to his office to see about panels he wanted done with the same crispness and life, but this did not eventuate.” This was, she said, “the first piece of work that he felt was a happy fulfillment of what he would like to do” after having worked through an artistic crisis following a trip he made to New York in 1928. The pediment was exhibited at an Alumnae Show for the SMFA abt 1930.

The church has maintained the stone relief, but there are many such pieces of sculpture that deteriorate with the effects of weather or endure vandalism. Save Outdoor Sculpture is active in identifying and preserving public art.

For a man who wasn’t sure he believed in God, people have commented that Allen made the most beautiful angels!

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