Facing the East and the rising sun is "Baptism" or birth. Featured is this sculpture is the likenesses of Senator & abolitionist Charles Sumner. In the shadows of the north-facing side of the tower is "Religious Instruction," commonly described as "Communion." Upon this frieze are the likenesses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, & Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Facing South and the noon-time sun is the frieze entitled "Marriage." On this are the linesesses of President Abraham Lincoln and Italian general Guiseppe Garibaldi. Facing West and the setting sun is "Extreme Unction" or, as is more commonly described, "Death."
This magnificent landmark has been significantly worn by New England's harsh winds and weather. In 2016, It became apparent that repairs to the tower and the sculptures was necessary.
The First Baptist Church is currently in the process of restoring and preserving this treasure.
In 2017, scaffolding was completed to make safe the upper levels of the tower. Costing over $300,000, this critical investemnt not only protects those on the sidewalk below but also provides a safe work platform from which to assess the condition of the tower and to make permanent repairs.
In 2018, under the direction of Ivan Myjer Building & Monument Conservation, a comprehensive evaluation including mortar and stone analysis was conducted. Reconstruction work on the upper stages of the tower, as well as significant roofing (four valleys, over 1200 new slates) has been done in 2019-2020. Stabilization work on the friezes is expected in 2020.
Crucial to continuing this work of restoration is financial support.
Also included, though not specifically located, are images of artists John LaFarge and Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. One line of thought is that Bartholdi may have included his own image on each of the four scenes.
The crowning glory of the First Baptist Church of Boston is the 176 foot tall tower. Designed by H. H. Richardson, the architect of this meetinghouse, the frieze is adorned with scupltures Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, best known for the Statue of Liberty. Bartholdi entitled this work "Les Quatres Etapes de la vie chretienne" (The Four Stages of the Christian LIfe.)