Dog once again stands guard, this time over Robbins Farm Park

Stephanie Burns holds Libby, who sniffs the new dog sculpture at Robbins Farm. / Kathleen Fink photo
Stephanie Burns holds Libby, who sniffs the new dog sculpture at Robbins Farm. / Kathleen Fink photo

UPDATED, July 13: Since 2013, the public has been waiting for a sculpture of the dog that used to stand guard at the Robbins home, long before a park was there.


PHOTO SERIES >>


Finally, overlooking the Boston skyline, the replica stands at the ready, not far from where children play. Thank the Friends of Robbins Farm, as the sculpture was installed Wednesday, July 11, by Skylight Studios.

The plaque for the history projects reads:

Original dog sculpture at Robbins 'farmhouse.'Original dog sculpture at Robbins 'farmhouse.'

"These granite benches and stones mark the corners of Farmer

Nathan Robbins’s mansion which stood on this site from 1884-1942. 

The dog sculpture is a replica of the original which 'stood guard outside,

A feature of the grounds much beloved by local children."

 The background, foreground

The current edition of "Wags & Tags," the newsletter for A-DOG, has published "The Robbins Farm Dog Comes Home: Friends of Robbins Farm Park History Project Becomes a Reality," by Sue Doctrow, provides the background, republished here with permission:

"For approximately 6 years, the Friends of Robbins Farm Park (FORFP) has worked with town officials to install a permanent public art installation to celebrate the legacy of Nathan Robbins, whose generosity led to the creation of Robbins Farm Park (RFP), a beloved public space in Arlington that features 11 acres of green-space, breathtaking views of the Boston skyline, a popular playground with its iconic 50-foot slides (recently restored, thanks to a $25,000 contribution raised by FORFP), newly renovated playing fields as part of a Town/Community Preservation Act funded capital project, and the Robbins Farm Garden, a cooperative community vegetable garden with an educational mission. The FORFP, a nonprofit community all-volunteer organization founded in 1999, has long worked to promote beautification and restoration of RFP, as well as to sponsor free community events such as concerts, plays and films.

"RFP was created in 1942 when Nathan Robbins sold his farm, in his family for over 200 years, to the town to create a park. Even before creation of the park, the farm had been an informal gathering spot, especially for neighborhood children. In 2012, the FORFP invited Bill Armstrong, a local businessman who grew up in Arlington in the 1930s, to share his childhood memories of Robbins Farm. He confirmed other oral histories that had described visiting the farm, particularly how children enjoyed sitting on the old dog statue that stood in front of the Robbins mansion.

"Mysteriously, the statue disappeared in the 1940s. Mr. Armstrong suggested that the FORFP either find the old statue, or have a replacement made for installation at the park, as a tribute to Nathan Robbins. This led to the FORFP's History Project, and the art installation that was finally completed on a sunny morning, July 11, 2018, with the delivery and installation of the Robbins Farm Dog statue. (The dog statue is a reproduction of a statue at the Houston Historical Society, called "The Sentinel" by Thomas Hoppin, and reminiscent of the original Robbins dog. This was created for the project by Houston sculptor Lori Betz.)

"Thus, the art installation envisioned by FORFP is now in place. It includes not only the Robbins dog statue as its focal point, but also reclaimed granite benches and flush pavers set at the corners of an architectural palimpsest, marking the footprint of the Robbins mansion.

"FORFP board president Tony Vogel, who is also an A-DOG member, has come to our A-DOG meetings to let us know how the project has been going over the years. When Tony told me that the statue was to be installed, I was excited to bring my black lab Becker to welcome the Robbins dog home.

A-DOG donates in memory of Chaput

"I am proud that A-DOG donated $500 to this wonderful project. While the project is now complete, the FORFP used much of its resources, thousands of dollars, to fund it. FORFP receives no town funding and is entirely dependent on volunteer donations, including membership dues. Please consider joining FORFP and/or donating in appreciation for this beautiful addition to RFP that, truly, celebrates the canine–human bond over centuries. Also, your donation will help FORFP continue to care for this beloved park of ours. Donate to or join FORFP here. (Also contact FORFP to ask about their commemorative T-shirts with the dog statue in exchange for a History Project donation.)

"In addition to voting to donate to this project, the A-DOG board voted to make this donation in memory of longtime Arlington resident and volunteer, 44 year Town Meeting Member and FORFP treasurer, Roly Chaput, who passed away early in 2016. One reason we wanted to dedicate our donation to Roly is that he was an eloquent and outspoken supporter of our efforts to make off-leash recreation legal in Arlington, including at RFP. As a steward of the park, a Town Meeting member, and a dedicated volunteer in so many aspects of life in Arlington, Roly's support surely made a difference in the ultimate success of these efforts. In addition, Roly was involved from the beginning in the History Project and so many of us wish he could have been there to welcome this unique tribute to a very special place."

Note: Doctrow is an A-DOG board member and member of the Wags and Tags editorial team. She is also a member of the Robbins Farm Garden and proud to support FORFP. Parts of this article were adapted, with permission, from a story by Elaine Backman of FORFP.


Oct. 3, 2013: Guard dog project at Robbins Farm breaks into a trot


This story was published Wednesday, July 11, 2018, and updated July 13, to replace a photo and add details.

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