By Jim Pitrowski, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – When you travel through downtown Marlborough, you can's help but notice the beautiful Shoeworkers” Monument at Centennial Park at the intersection of routes 20 and 85.
The park was designed by architectural firm Panagore Associates, and both the park and monument were built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Marlborough's incorporation as a city in 1990.
The life-size bronze statues stand 5″5″ tall, and are surrounded by a brick wall. The male and female subjects are on a 10-inch wide granite base and depict the shoemakers sitting and standing at a small bench. The scene includes the typical tools used and clothing worn by shoemakers, many of whom worked part-time and would, throughout the early to mid-1800s, add a shed onto their house in which to work. Because these workshops frequently measured 10″ by 10″, they were referred to as “ten-footers.”
The monument was designed and installed by sculptor David Kapetanopoulos, the same artist who created The Tortoise and the Hare in front of the Marlborough Public Library. Kapetanopoulos grew up in Marlborough and worked briefly in one of the many shoe factories that are part of the city's industrial history. His parents and grandparents also worked in Marlborough's shoemaking industry.
The plaque attached to the park reads, “Dedicated to the Legacy of Marlborough's Shoeworkers.”
At one point, the city was the second-largest shoe manufacturer in the world with Boyd and Corey Shoe, Temple Shoe, Diamond Shoe, Bennett Shoe, Marlborough Shoe, Mutual Shoe, Commonwealth Shoe, and Ashby-Crawford companies all within a few miles of one another.
Later, in 1863, Frye Shoe was founded and in 1871, the Rice and Hutchins Shoe factory opened.
The Shoeworkers” Monument will remain as a visible tribute to the thousands of men and women who helped establish Marlborough as a worldwide leader in the shoemaking industry.