Holy Bathtubs of Somerville

Somerville, MA has been known to have an exceptional number of “bathtub shrines”. Clustered in spots throughout the country that were heavily settled by Roman Catholics, these lawn shrines were historically made by burying an old bathtub halfway into the ground and placing a statue of the Virgin Mary inside. Though the bathtubs usually house a model of Mary, other prominent Catholic figures are occasionally displayed.

Traditional bathtub Madonna shrine in Somerville

High concentrations of traditional bathtub shrines are found in places around the country including Wisconsin and Minnesota. Though a handful of those still exist here, more common are the scallop-shelled or fluted stone shrines mass-produced for the bathtub lawn shrine industry that apparently had a boom in Somerville not so long ago. I think I’ve heard that there are over 400 of these shrines on various lawns throughout the city, though don’t quote (and feel free to correct) me on the number. Click to enlarge:


DAILY TRIVIA: The first Somerville public library opened in 1873.



2 responses to “Holy Bathtubs of Somerville

  1. I’ve seen those shrines all around town but never knew that they were made from old bathtubs.

  2. hello, i’m interested in knowing how to contact
    the author/photographer of this article

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