For more than a hundred years, a gilded cockerel has greeted the sun high above the Cambridge Common.
But the era of the golden weathervane shaped like a rooster atop First Church is coming to a close. It will be removed for its own safety, the church recently announced.
The 302-year-old weathervane, which has been perched on the church’s roof for the last 150 years, is being removed “to protect it from further damage caused by extreme weather, pollution and its own venerable age,” according to the church.
The decision was made in consultation with experts in the field of American folk art and historic weathervanes, who recommended it be taken down as soon as possible.
According to the church, one expert called the cockerel a “magnificent example of an American weathervane, but more so, a magnificent example of American vernacular sculpture.”
The rooster was made in 1721 in Boston’s North End by Shem Drowne, the coppersmith who also made the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall, according to First Church.
“The cockerel is a national treasure!” the church wrote. “The experts urged that for its protection from the elements and the safety of people and property around it, the cockerel be brought down as soon as possible. Drone videos revealed there is significant and dangerous erosion of the gilding on one side of the cockerel, especially its large tail feathers.”
While the date of the weathervane’s removal is still being determined, the church said its leaders and the congregation will consider the next steps for stewardship of the historic cockerel — if it should be sold, if it should be replaced with a replica, or if a different item should take its place.
On Sunday, the church will hold its first listening session on the removal of the weathervane, where members of the community will be given the chance to reflect and ask questions about the rooster’s removal. A second virtual session will be held at a later date.
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