Bottle Trees on Brattle Street Bring Histories to Light: “Forgotten Souls of Tory Row”

Several times this summer I have viewed and visited the bottle trees on the History Cambridge lawn. I hope to keep revisiting till they’re gone in April 2023. For now, I’ll share photos, quotes, and links that can help us appreciate, understand, and reflect on this enlightening project,Forgotten Souls of Tory Row: Remembering the Enslaved People of Brattle Street.

“This summer’s installation by Black Coral, Inc. is a collection of bottle trees. Originating in West Africa, the bottle tree tradition was brought to the United States by enslaved people, most notably those who lived in Georgia and South Carolina. This tradition was passed down through generations of enslaved and, later, free Black communities, marking the survival of a cultural practice despite the bonds of slavery. The distinctive blue and white bottles were placed on tree limbs to capture the energy, spirit, and memories of ancestors.” ( quote from Forgotten Souls of Tory Row: Remembering the Enslaved People of Brattle Street June 2022 – April 2023, History Cambridge)

The iron trees’ limbs are capped with 300 indigo glass bottles that are illuminated by solar-powered lights at dusk. (quote from:‘The ugly can turn into beauty’: Bottle trees on Brattle Street hold memory of the enslaved’Boston Globe article by Alexander Thompson, July 17, 2022)

July 16 Event to Inaugurate the Exhibit:

 Cornell Coley performing Drum Libation Ceremony for now Unforgotten Souls of Tory Row:

 L’Merchie Frazier reading names of now Unforgotten souls of Tory Row:

Link to video of the event, July 16: Forgotten Souls of Tory Row Public Celebration July 16th 2022

Black Coral, Inc. is a nonprofit collaborative of artists and business people who are concerned about uncovering the lost knowledge of our ancestors, and using that knowledge to heal and solve the problems of the modern age. Founders: J. Lynda Blake; Pam Goncalves; Michael Thierry, L’Merchie Frazier, and Ruth Rosner. Lead installation Artist: Gail Bos.( quote from Forgotten Souls of Tory Row: Remembering the Enslaved People of Brattle Street June 2022 -April 2023, History Cambridge)

Link to video of discussion, July 21: Artist Talk with Black Coral, Inc.

Link to website for Cornell Coley: Cornell Coley

Link to History Cambridge: About History Cambridge

Link to website for L’Merchie Frazier: L’Merchie Frazier

Link to website for Black Coral, Inc: Black Coral, Inc

One comment

  1. Nicki Bibbo · · Reply

    I always enjoy your informative reviews and your alert to local talent.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: