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Merrimack Valley

October 23, 2012

Bronze relief memorializing 1912 strike affixed to boulder

LAWRENCE — What began as a sketch depicting workers rushing out of the mills holding American flags, is now a permanent bronze memorial to the historic mill strike of 1912.

Yesterday, Steve LeMasurier and his nephew, Jason LeMasurier of LeMasurier Granite Quarry of Chelmsford installed the bronze with the bas relief created by sculptor Daniel Altschuler of Gloucester onto a boulder in Campagnone Common across from City Hall.

“It certainly has historical significance for us,” said Steve LeMasurier, whose ancestors have been in the area for generations. “It’s always good to see people recognize what has happened in the past.”

The installation concluded two years of planning by members of the 1912 Strikers’ Monument Committee and co-chaired by David Meehan, retired Lawrence High School art teacher and historian Jonas Stundzia. Their goal was to have a memorial commemorating the Lawrence Textile Strike of 1912.

“Just like the Fisherman’s Memorial in Gloucester and the Sculpture by the Sea at Hampton Beach, N.H., we want this to be a cradle of labor history in Lawrence,” Meehan said.

The strike of 1912 is often referred to as the Bread and Roses strike and involved tens of thousands of workers lasting nine weeks. It was precipitated when their hours were cut from 56 to 54 per week resulting in a 32 cent wage cut.

In March, a 30,000-pound basalt boulder, a volcanic rock, donated by Brox Quarry in Dracut, was hoisted into place at Campagnone Common on which LeMasuriers permanently affixed the bronze relief. The plaque weighs 120 pounds and is 40-inches by 28-inches down.

The stone stands across from City Hall where Bill Haywood of the Industrial Workers of the World urged strikers to accept the wage proposals made by owners of the American Woolen Company to end the strike.

The project is costing $150,000 and the monument committee still needs to raise $20,000 for landscaping and to install a plaque explaining the history of the strike. Contributions so far have run the gamut from $25 to $10,000.

How to contribute:

To make donations to the 1912 Striker’s Monument Committee send checks to Lawrence Community Works/Strikers’ Monument, Lawrence Community Works, in care of Lisa Torrisi, 168 Newbury St., Lawrence, Mass. 01841.

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