The Turtle Boy Statue in Worcester, Massachusetts is officially known as the Burnside Fountain. It was commissioned in 1905 as a horse / dog / person fountain and designed by Henry Bacon. Henry created the overall look, then assigned the actual sculpting of the form to Charles Y. Harvey.
Harvey was working in New York and thought this piece would be his masterpiece. However, he almost immediately began hearing voices saying he wasn’t good enough, that he was a failure, and he should just kill himself. As he worked, he even heard the sculpture talking to him. The voices told him the date was to be January 27, 1912. Obediently, when that date came around, he committed suicide.
Sherry Fry then stepped up to finish the sculpture and casting. The finished work is bronze on a pink granite basin.
Unfortunately for Harvey and Fry, by 1912 we were already transitioning to cars. There was no longer a need for a watering station. It was simply a decoration.
Over the years the statue has been stolen, reinstalled, neglected, and repaired. There are songs about turtle boy and his love for this turtle. Many in Worcester joke that that love is a little too intimate. One has to wonder if that is Bacon’s fault, in his design, or in Harvey’s fault, in his interpretation.
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