Robert Burns, 1906
William Grant Stevenson
West Washington Boulevard west of North Central Park Avenue
This monument honors Robert Burns (1759–1796), Scotland’s most revered poet and best known in America for his song lyrics to “Auld Lang Syne.” A Burns Memorial and Monument Association formed in the 1880s to erect the figurative sculpture. When fundraising efforts for the project were slow, Edinburgh sculptor and painter William Grant Stevenson stated he would not complete the work until paid in full. The committee's director, Mrs. Robert (Elizabeth) Ballantine, visited with the artist in Scotland and arranged for payments to be made.
In addition to the figurative sculpture, bronze relief panels were cast and originally displayed on its pedestal. However, those bas-relief panels depicting scenes from the poet’s works were later stolen. The sculpture was dedicated by Governor Charles S. Deneen in August 1906. Similar monuments of Burns by Stevenson, depicting him holding a book of his poetry, are located in Milwaukee, Denver and Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. They are all cast from the original work in Kilmarnock, Scotland, where it is the centerpiece of a Burns Monument. The Scottish version was nearly destroyed after fire engulfed the monument in November 2004. Extensive cleaning and restoration was necessary before the iconic statue was unveiled again in 2008.