You may have wondered about the statue of a young woman on the boulevard, near the intersection with Clarendon St. The bronze sculpture, A Memorial to Young Womanhood (or The Spirit of Youth), memorializes the spirit of youth and Constance Witherby, a girl who died of heart failure just before her sixteenth birthday while climbing in the Swiss Alps. While a student at Lincoln School, she began to write poetry, which was published after her death as a collection entitled Sunshine & Stardust. She is the author of the phrase engraved on the statue.
The statue was dedicated in 1930, and was originally in Constance Witherby Park, which is a small park across from the Salvation Army on Waterman Street that was given to the city by Constance Witherby’s parents. After the statue was vandalized toward the end of the 20th century it was repaired by the city and moved to its present location on the boulevard. Her surviving brother, Frederich Rowland Hazard Witherby, approached the Blackstone Park Improvement Association for help in landscaping it, and paid for trees, shrubs, and the two granite benches at the site. Volunteers watered the following summer to insure the survival of the plantings, dragging a hose across the boulevard from a neighboring house.
The sculptor was Gail Sherman Corbett (1871 – 1952) from Syracuse, New York with ties to Rhode Island. She was a descendent of Philip Sherman of Dedham, Essex, England, who came in 1633 to Roxbury, Massachusetts, and afterwards, with eighteen others, founded the town of Portsmouth and the Colony of Rhode Island. She was a student of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, one of the most important American sculptors of the nineteenth century.
Poems By Constance Witherby
|The Birds are Singing|
The birds are singing,
Granny, I made this poem.
I wish I could see a mermaid fair,
Spring fever has caught me,
I am not ill.