Relating to my last post regarding a clock in town to honor the late Mayor Mike DiNunzio’s legacy, some people suggested a statue be erected to honor him instead. Most cities have statues of famous people or events: Philadelphia has quite a number of statues including William Penn, George Washington and Joan of Arc; Norristown has a statue dedicated to 9/11, which shows a set of hands holding a piece of wreckage from the World Trade Center; Doylestown has one of a World War I soldier giving aid to another wounded soldier; Pottstown has a Grand Army of the Republic Statue and yes, Lansdale has a statue of sorts. Lansdale’s statue or more accurately a bronze relief, is of Dr. Frank Boston. Dr. Boston was the physician who founded the hospital that would eventually become North Penn Hospital, then Central Montgomery Medical Center and now, Abington Hospital at Lansdale. He also helped to establish Lansdale’s First Aid Corps which would later become the Volunteer Medical Service Corps that we know today.
A bronze relief statue of Dr. Frank Boston was erected at the northeast corner of Broad and Seventh Streets facing Elm Terrace Gardens which used to be North Penn Hospital. Why was the statue placed across the street facing the hospital instead of in the hospital or on the hospital grounds when Dr. Boston was so integral in its establishment? This a question with an interesting answer.
Dr. Boston was a World War I veteran who came to Lansdale from Philadelphia in the ’30s to practice medicine and surgery. Generally regarded as an exemplary surgeon, a compassionate doctor who frequently treated the needy without compensation and a civic leader, he was nontheless shunned by the Board of Directors of the hospital at the time. Of the suspected reasons for this are the often inflated egos associated with doctors on hospital boards, rumors of philandering on Dr. Boston’s behalf, the fact that he was an ‘outsider’ from Philadelphia in a predominately Pennsylvania Mennonite town– and perhaps, because he was not quite white. He was light-skinned with green eyes, but he had African-American facial features and hair.
Dr. Boston was diagnosed with cancer in 1958 and passed away in 1960 before his memorial was built and dedicated by his ardent supporters and patients. This is the story of Lansdale’s only statue. No Rocky, no military heros, just a bronze relief of a country doctor from the other side of the tracks at the edge of town looking across the street at the hospital he helped establish.