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Celebrating Completion of $4M Revitalization of Brewer Fountain Plaza

November 19, 2014

Snip20141119_44This month the Friends completed its $4 million project to revitalize Brewer Fountain Plaza and the surrounding parkland on Boston Common near Park Street station. The City led the effort to restore the fountain, which was re-dedicated in 2010. The Friends launched a companion project to revitalize the plaza and entire parkland leading up to the State House and along Tremont Street, which over the years had fallen into a state of disrepair. This multi-year effort implemented by the Friends is the largest single project undertaken in the 44-year history of the nonprofit’s work in caring for the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall in partnership with the City’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Over 260 individuals, foundations, and corporations contributed to this community effort.

In warmer months, café tables and chairs, piano music at lunchtime, a reading room, and quality food have made this one of the most popular outdoor gathering places in the city for residents and visitors. Highlights of the project include granite paving, refurbished grass areas, and the addition of 44 new trees.  Other improvements include irrigation to sustain prime grass areas; improved lighting; new curbing; repaved walkways; and better drainage. The final piece of the project along Lafayette Mall restored roughly 350 feet of historic cast iron fencing to the Tremont Street park edge for the first time in more than 100 years, between Park Street Station and West Street. The original fence was removed in 1895 for subway construction.

Read previous blog posts on this project: 
Discovering Premier Seating on Boston Common
Brewer Fountain Plaza: A Fountain-side Retreat on Boston Common
What’s happening on Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common?

Boston Common Off-Leash Dog Area Shifts

November 14, 2014


The off-leash dog area on the Beacon Street side of Boston Common has shifted to an area nearby. For more information on the Boston Common Off-Leash Dog Program and to donate to it, visit 

Read about the launch of the program: Off-Leash Dog Area Builds Community

Young Friends Event to Celebrate Frame the Garden Project and Support Parks

November 13, 2014


NEW! Purchase tickets to the event by November 25th and be entered for a chance to win a $100 gift card for Abby Lane.

The Friends temporarily installed three frames in the Public Garden and encouraged people to, “Take a photo and share your masterpiece with the world.” The Young Friends group promoted this initiative which celebrates the beauty of the Public Garden, engages visitors, and raises awareness for our work in caring for the Public Garden, Boston Common, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Join the Young Friends for an evening of appetizers, drinks, and socializing to support the frame project and the Friends ongoing work to care for these three parks.

Monday, December 8
Abby Lane
253 Tremont Street, Boston
Tickets:  $40.00 per person
RSVP by December 1

Read about the frame the garden project on,,, and view an “idyllic scene” from Boston Globe photographer David Ryan.

Boylston Street Border Renewal Continues

October 31, 2014

Boylston Street border “before” picture (Photo: Toby Wolf)

This fall, the Friends completed the second phase of the Boylston Street border project while also finalizing the first 150-foot pilot area.  The second phase encompassed an additional 200 feet of the border adjacent to the pilot area and included the same scope of work accomplished in the first phase. New plantings were added, and the drainage strip from Phase I was extended. Two new benches will be added that will allow visitors more opportunities to view the garden from this vantage point. Learn more…


Boylston Street border “after” picture (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)

An Evening of Climate Change Preparation and Celebration with Friends

October 31, 2014

More than 100 Friends Members and others attended a reception at Carver Ballroom of the Revere Hotel on Thursday, October 9th for an evening focused on preparing for climate change.  Chair of the Friends Board of Directors Anne Brooke kicked-off the Members Reception event  by thanking members for their involvement and support, providing an update on projects, and thanking the Motor Mart Garage, the event’s lead sponsor.

Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza provided an overview of a generous marketing campaign implemented by Hill Holliday to raise visibility for the Friends. The Boston-based communications firm designed a new logo, and a wonderfully creative campaign that appeared on advertising space they secured for the Friends on MBTA information kiosks, bus shelters, buses, billboards, and in subway cars.  In appreciation of this marketing partnership, the Friends sponsored a bench in Hill Holliday’s name and, to the delight of Hill Holliday staff in attendance and the audience, surprised them with the gift at the event.

Featured speaker Brian Swett, Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space for the City of Boston displayed maps, photographs and renderings showing how climate change is expected to impact the city. He explained that 2012 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. by one full degree, and that by 2047, the coldest years will be warmer than today’s warmest. He described several cutting-edge projects Boston has initiated to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the city and its residents. How do parks help? Parks with ample turf areas and trees offer the benefits of soaking up rain water, returning it to the groundwater, and cooling the land.  Swett says that areas with trees can be as much as 10 to 15 degrees cooler than those without; a major benefit of our parks. The tree count in Boston Common, the Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall totals more than 1,700, and they are cared for by the Friends. For more than four decades we have been working in partnership with the city to protect and enhance these parks.  In 2013 alone, under our tree care program, 700 trees were pruned and 1,200 were treated against diseases such as Dutch elm.

Swett encouraged everyone to get involved with Greenovate Boston. According to its website,, a community-driven movement aims to get all Bostonians involved in reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.

Conservation Work Begins on Shaw Memorial on Boston Common

September 18, 2014
Conservator Ivan Myjer, Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza,  Kathryn Greenthal; Shaw Committee member; Henry, chair of Shaw Committee, National Park Service Park Ranger Ryan McNabb, Elizabeth Stifel, Landmarks Commission, and Margaret Dyson, Parks Department

Conservator Ivan Myjer; Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza;
Kathryn Greenthal; Shaw Committee member, Henry Lee; chair of Shaw Committee; National Park Service Park Ranger Ryan McNabb; Elizabeth Stifel, Boston Landmarks Commission; and Margaret Dyson, Boston Parks and Recreation Department


The Shaw Committee of the Friends of the Public Garden recently gathered at the Shaw Memorial on Boston Common to observe a project that began in September. The project is being conducted in response to a detailed report outlining the existing conditions and treatment recommendations for conservation of the stone elements of the Memorial. It is very important to comprehensively repoint all mortar joints to prevent water from entering the monument, and to remove biological growth from the stone.

Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial, located opposite the State House, is the most acclaimed piece of sculpture on the Common. Saint-Gaudens was the foremost American sculptor of his day. After accepting the Shaw Memorial commission in 1884, he took almost fourteen years to complete the job. The enormous bas-relief depicts the mounted Colonel Robert Gould Shaw leading the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-volunteer black regiment in the Union army. Colonel Shaw, together with many of his men, died at Fort Wagner, South Carolina, in July 1863. The monument was finally unveiled on May 30, 1897, with ceremonies lasting most of the day. The military parade included some old soldiers who had left for war from that very spot.

In 1980, the Friends of the Public Garden raised $200,000 to restore and endow the Memorial, which had never been maintained and was in terrible condition. The Friends also established an endowment to ensure its regular care. It was rededicated on its centennial in 1997 with General Colin Powell in attendance.

Friends of the Public Garden Seeks Docents

September 16, 2014



Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The Friends of the Public Garden is launching a Public Garden Tour Program in 2015 and is actively recruiting docents to lead the tours. We are looking for men and women who are passionate about the trees, plantings, sculpture, and history of the Public Garden and who want to share that knowledge and enthusiasm with others.

Requirements for the docent program include: attending six trainings a month, which will be held in January and February 2015; committing to giving two tours per month between May and October, 2015; joining or renewing membership in the Friends of the Public Garden. Docents should be out-going and eager to engage in conversation with the public; a loud voice would also be desirable.

Information sessions for the docent program will be held at the Friends office at 69 Beacon Street on Tuesday, September 30 and Tuesday, October 14 at 1:00 p.m. Please email or call 617-723-8144 to RSVP.


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