Mary Had a Little Lamb Statue

Sterling, Massachusetts
The Mary Had a Little Lamb Statue, in the picturesque town common of Sterling, Massachusetts, serves as a tribute to a beloved nursery rhyme.
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The Mary Had a Little Lamb Statue, in the picturesque town common of Sterling, Massachusetts, serves as a timeless tribute to a beloved nursery rhyme and the real-life inspiration behind it, Mary Sawyer. Born in Sterling in 1806, Mary Sawyer would become forever intertwined with the whimsical tale of a little lamb that followed her to school.

The bronze statue, unveiled in 1991, depicts a life-sized lamb resting on a rectangular base, evoking the innocence and charm of the nursery rhyme’s enduring imagery.

Mary’s connection to the famous rhyme began in childhood when, at the tender age of nine, she tenderly nursed a weak lamb back to health after it was rejected by its mother. The bond between Mary and her pet lamb grew strong, with the devoted creature following her everywhere, earning the affectionate nickname “Mary’s Little Lamb.”

The fateful morning that inspired the nursery rhyme unfolded when Mary, on her brother’s suggestion, brought her beloved lamb to the Redstone Schoolhouse in town. The lamb’s innocent bleat disrupted the class, prompting the teacher to insist it wait outside until Mary could retrieve it at lunchtime.

The origins of the poem itself are somewhat disputed. While John Roulstone, a newcomer to Sterling, is credited with penning the original three stanzas, writer Sarah Josepha Hale later expanded upon the tale in her 1830 collection, “Poems for Our Children.” Debate lingers over the extent of Hale’s contribution, with most agreeing that only the final three stanzas are her original creation.

Despite the controversy, the enduring popularity of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” has immortalized Mary Sawyer’s connection to the whimsical rhyme. Her legacy extends beyond the confines of Sterling, with her contribution to preserving Boston’s Old South Meeting House serving as a testament to her enduring impact.

In Sterling, the Mary Had a Little Lamb statue stands as a gentle reminder of Mary’s endearing bond with her pet lamb and the timeless tale that captured the hearts of generations. Though Mary may have passed away in 1889, her memory lives on, woven into the fabric of a cherished nursery rhyme and immortalized in bronze for all to admire.


Address: Main Street, Sterling, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.437972, -71.760056
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.437972, -71.760056
Parking Notes: Parking can be found all around the town common along Main Street, Park Street, and Meetinghouse Hill Road.

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