City seal redesign down to three options: What’s next?

Newton’s long quest for a new city seal is almost complete.

Designer Sebastian Ellington Ebarb, hired to last year create a redesign, has presented his concept to the public along with multiple versions of what will be a representation of the city for the foreseeable future.

You can check out his draft designs here.

The city’s current seal, created in 1865, is so old it was adopted by a Board of Selectmen because Newton wasn’t even a city yet. Later, the date of city incorporation was added.

The scene the seal conveys—John Elliot evangelizing to indigenous people—is problematic in many ways.

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller established the City Seal Working Group—which includes City Councilor Bill Humphrey; Newton’s Director of Community Engagement and Inclusion Hattie Kerwin Derrick, Historic Newton Director Lisa Dady; Planning Department Urban Designer Shubee Sikka; as well as Jim Murphy and Ryan Naragon—in 2020 to address the seal and make recommendations.

The city hired Ebarb last year to come up with a new concept that represents Newton’s ideals and its community. The City Seal Working Group also provided a list of things they’d like the seal to convey.

A design professor at Northeastern, Ebarb has redesigned seals for other communities, including Natick. And he’s of Native American heritage and has designed many logos for Native American businesses.

Ebarb’s final three design drafts all omit John Eliot, but they all keep the words “Liberty and Union” from the original seal, and they all contain the dates of town and city incorporation.

Two of the choices depict City Hall in the center, while a third highlight’s Newton’s reputation as the “garden city” with a tree and the Charles River.

Residents were asked to fill out a survey selecting which design they like best.

The seal redesign has a few more steps to go.

Next, the City Seal Working Group will pick one of the final three designs to be the final version, and that version will be sent to the City Council Programs and Services Committee for a vote. Then the full City Council will vote on it.