Richard J. Shaw, 1939
Harleston Parker Medal, 1941
The Hatch Shell is one of Boston's most-beloved landmarks, occupying a prominent spot on the esplanade where it is visible from both sides of the river. It is best known for hosting the Boston Pops Orchestra for the annual Fourth of July concert and fireworks, when its wooden herringbone interior is broadcast around the world.
A temporary wooden band shell was built here in 1928, but the Great Depression delayed construction of a permanent structure until 1939. The architect Richard J. Shaw was noted for his churches across New England, and three of those were also awarded the Harleston Parker Medal. The Hatch Shell was Shaw's only major non-church commission, and the most famous.
The shell’s simple arcing geometries create a kind of architectural megaphone, and echo the dynamic sensuality of the contemporary Art Deco movement. They also presage the more abstract curves of Eero Saarinen’s Kresge Auditorium across the river at MIT.
In preparation for its 50th anniversary in 1991, the Shell underwent significant renovation and repair, including modernization of its acoustics and re-creation of the intricate interior wood paneling of the shell by hand.
Nearby statues commemorate Arthur Fiedler, the first permanent conductor of the Pops, and George S. Patton, the controversial U.S. General who addressed a crowd of 20,000 here on June 7, 1945.
Images: Above, ©Bruce T. Martin. Below, Garrett A. Wollman - From The Archives @ BostonRadio.org, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=232062Below, David Smith - Arthur Fiedler Statue, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18743866