Friends Addresses Parks Care Issues at 45th Annual Meeting

Friends of the Public Garden
Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook addresses more than 150 attendees at Friends of the Public Garden 45th Annual Meeting (Photo: Michael Dwyer)

On Wednesday, April 8th, the Friends of the Public Garden held their 45th annual meeting. Over 150 members and neighbors gathered at the First Church in Boston to hear from the Friends and featured speaker Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook talk about the accomplishments of the past year and plans for the future. Open discussion and warm conversation made the 45th Annual Meeting a successful update on the Friends.

The evening began with a greetings and updates from the Friends Board Chair Anne Brooke, and Board Directors Patricia Quinn and Jeannette Herrmann. Elizabeth Vizza, the Executive Director of the Friends, presented a summary of the work that the Friends completed over the past year. She began by thanking members and the Boston Parks Department for their contributions in making 2014 a successful year for the organization. This year, the Friends pruned 330 trees and protected 1,100 from disease. More than 30 sculptures in the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall were cleaned and two of the sculptures, the Leif Eriksson statue and the Robert Gould Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial, underwent major masonry conservation work. The Friends also launched the off-leash dog program on the Common and continued improvement work on the Boylston Street border of the Public Garden. The $4 million multi-year Brewer Fountain Plaza and parkland renovation, the group’s largest capitol project to date, was officially completed at the end of 2014. Ms. Vizza also outlined the Friends plans for the future, including working with the City to revitalize the Boston Common.

Parks Commissioner Chris Cook followed Ms. Vizza’s presentation. He made note of the important strides that the Boston Parks and Recreation Department is making in the upkeep of the City’s greenspaces. Cook’s announcement that a second park maintenance shift will be added this next year, which will be stationed in the Boston Common, was met with applause. Cook also announced that the just-released Mayor’s budget included funding to fix the sidewalk on the Tremont Street border of the Common in front of the Visitor Information Center, which for too long has been deteriorated with major, and in places dangerous, cracks. The budget also includes several other top priorities for the Common and Garden that were suggested by the Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends.

Following his remarks, Cook opened the floor for a Q and A session. He shared valuable information in response to questions, which ranged from “When will the broken fence in the Common be repaired?” to questions about how parks management can address climate change. Cook stressed the importance of the relationship between the Parks Department and the Friends, saying, “Many hands make light work.”

The evening concluded with a reception where attendees mingled with fellow Friends members and discussed the topics of the evening.

Celebrating Boston Landmarks with a Spin in Boston Common

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, BLC’s Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel and Director of Design Review William Young at Brewer Fountain Plaza on Boston Common.

On a recent brisk evening in March, a group of hearty Bostonians relished the opportunity to take a “Spin in the Park” to kick off the Boston Landmarks Commission’s 40th Anniversary. The tour of Boston Common, a designated landmark since 1977, was co-hosted by BLC and the Friends of the Public Garden.

Friends Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza spoke of the nonprofit’s 45-year history of working in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department to care for one of Boston’s most prized treasures. She noted the challenges of caring for a heavily used urban park and reflected on several challenges America’s first public park has faced since its origins. Today, the park continues to struggle to get the necessary level of funding for care, to match the intensity of its use. Vizza urged everyone to be aware of the needs of this “park of the people,” recalling that it was the citizens of Boston who pitched in to purchase it in 1634 as public space for generations to come.

William Young, BLC’s Director of Design Review spoke about several significant pieces of sculpture on the Common and provided insights into what was happening in Boston and the design community that may have influenced public art at the time. The tour began at the Parade Ground at the corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, and highlights included the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, Parkman Bandstand, the Visitor Information Center, and Brewer Fountain Plaza. Young’s colleague, Staff Architect Elizabeth Stifel, provided an overview of a project she participated in which transformed a restroom into what is now the Earl of Sandwich, a window-service restaurant that is open from spring through the fall.

The evening was intended to end with skating on the Frog Pond, another wonderful landmark; however, due to warm weather earlier in the week it closed for the season. Nonetheless, all enjoyed the twilight stroll through the Common.

Learn more about points of interest on Boston Common at www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

BLC XL has several events slated for 2015, including the BLC’s National Historic Preservation Month keynote event, to be held in May; a picnic and talk in Franklin Park, co-hosted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, scheduled for July; and a harvest-themed archaeological program coinciding with National Archaeology Month in October. For upcoming event details and announcements, please follow the BLC on Facebook and Twitter (@COBLandmarks), or visit their website at boston.gov/landmarks.

Friends BOD Requests Relocation of Olympic 2024 Events

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The Friends of the Public Garden Board of Directors voted recently to request that Olympic events and ancillary structures proposed by Boston 2024 for Boston Common and Public Garden be relocated.

The Board vote stated that plans to construct a 16,000-seat beach volleyball stadium on Boston Common constitutes exclusive use of what appears to be (according to Boston 2024 documents) three-fourths of Boston Common (calculating the area inside the security fence at 32 acres). The construction timeline estimates seven months, and most likely the areas impacted would be unavailable for as long as a year including post-event restoration. Approximately 35,000 people use this as their neighborhood park, and many thousands more from every neighborhood and beyond Boston use it for various forms of recreation and civic gathering. This use would reverse centuries of tradition in the spirit of Boston Common’s origins regarding public rights to use of the Common and non-privatization of public parks. The Boston 2024 plans also include ancillary structures in the Public Garden to support the Marathon and Road Cycling events, directing people to stadium seating through several gated entrance points, with one quarter of the Garden behind security fencing. The beach volleyball proposal would necessitate removal of over 50 mature trees on the Common, while the use of the Garden poses a threat of damage to this fragile botanical garden. The Boston Common and Public Garden need to be showcases for the international community of visitors, and welcome people as places of respite during this busy three-week event, not gated venues available only to ticket holders. They should be improved over the next nine years to the high standards of excellence we are advocating for them.

Based on an understanding of the materials that have been made available to the community, the Board vote requests that “Boston 2024 alter its proposal and move the Beach Volleyball event out of the Boston Common; and furthermore, that any ancillary structures proposed within the Public Garden or the Boston Common to support the Beach Volleyball event, the Marathon, and the Road Cycling events be relocated. Furthermore, we request that no Olympics-related venues or ancillary structures be sited on the Boston Common or Public Garden.”

Please visit http://www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org/olympics for more information.

Mark Your Calendars for Duckling Day 2015!

2014 Duckling Day parade weaves through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band
2014 Duckling Day parade weaves through the Boston Common and Public Garden, led by the Harvard University Marching Band

The Friends of the Public Garden, in association with the City of Boston Parks and Recreation Department and Mayor Martin J. Walsh, will celebrate Mother’s Day with Boston-area families during its annual Duckling Day on Sunday, May 10th. A beloved tradition for more than 30 years, Duckling Day celebrates the children’s classic book, “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey. Every year, over 1,000 people meet up and parade through Boston’s most picturesque parks, dressed like characters from the story. Led by the Harvard Marching Band, the parade will begin on the Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand and end in the Public Garden near the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculptures. Bring your camera – the parade is possibly the most adorable thing you’ll ever see!

Prior to the parade there will be plenty of family entertainment including crafts, face painters, a magician, and puppet show. Walk on a circus tightrope with Esh Circus Arts, or play on the Common with the Knucklebones crew. Moms are invited to enjoy a free mini-massage thanks to local volunteer Massage Therapists. All families are welcome to bring a picnic and enjoy springtime on the Common!

Mayor Walsh will greet families prior to the parade, and actors from the Wheelock Family Theatre will do a dramatic reading from Make Way for Ducklings. The registration fee is $35 per family in advance and $40 per family the day of the event. Each child who registers will receive a special goodie bag filled with Duckling Day themed items.

Quick Facts:

Sunday, May 10, 2015
Boston Common – Parkman Bandstand
Hosted by the Friends of the Public Garden
10:00 a.m. – Registration begins
11:45 a.m. – Mayor Walsh and Executive Director Liz Vizza greet families
12:00 p.m. – Parade begins
The registration fee is $35 per family online before May 8 and $40 per family the day of the event

Register today!

For nearby parking, please consider the Motor Mart Garage, the lead sponsor of this event.

Motor Mart Garage

 

Friends Gather to Explore Public Garden History on a Winter Evening

Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, Liz Morgan, Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan, and Bobby Moore
Friends of the Public Garden Executive Director Elizabeth Vizza, Liz Morgan, Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan, and Friends Public Garden Chair Bobby Moore (Photo by Caroline Phillips-Licari)

On February 4th, the Friends of the Public Garden presented “Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden,” a lecture by Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan. The event, attended by 75 people at Suffolk University Law School, explored the origin, early designs, and evolution of America’s first public botanical garden.

Morgan traced the Public Garden’s development from its original submersion under tidal marshland through the highly embellished Garden of the Victorian era to the design we know today. He explored the historical significance of the Garden’s most famous statues and shared images of art that was inspired by the Garden, such as Maurice Prendergast’s “Large Boston Public Garden Sketchbook” and Robert McCloskey’s children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings.”

Seventy five people turned out on a brisk February evening to hear Keith N. Morgan discuss the histories of the Public Garden
Seventy five people turned out on a brisk February evening to hear Keith N. Morgan discuss the histories of the Public Garden

More than a dozen audience members were attending the lecture as part of a training program. In spring, Friends of the Public Garden volunteers will be leading tours in the Public Garden and sharing highlights on its history, horticulture, sculpture, and other significant elements. Tours will provide community members with an opportunity to learn about the rich history of one of Boston’s most cherished greenspaces from other members of the community.

Morgan teaches History of Art and Architecture at Boston University where he has taught for over 30 years. He has been published numerous works over the past few decades, including his most recent co-authored book: “Community by Design: the Olmsted Office and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts, 1880-1936.”

For more information on upcoming Friends of the Public Garden events and the launch of the Public Garden Tour Program, stay tuned to www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

Celebrating Boston Landmarks Commission 40th Anniversary with Boston Common Tour

Boston Common (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari)
Boston Common (Photo: Caroline Phillips-Licari

The Friends is delighted to be partnering with the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) on an event that will kick-off their 40th anniversary year. Mayor Martin J. Walsh recently announced a series of free events scheduled throughout 2015 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of BLC. Titled BLC XL, this anniversary series will feature four seasonal programs celebrating Boston’s historic places and the progress made during the past four decades to protect and enhance the city’s unique identity.

On March 12, 2015, please join us at the winter BLC XL program, “A Spin in the Park,” a free guided tour of the Boston Common. On this early-evening ramble, the Friends will present the colorful history of the Common, a designated Boston Landmark since 1977, and their ongoing efforts to restore and maintain it. BLC staff will reveal how the Common’s significant fences, statuary and fountains help define one of the city’s foundational places. This spin through the park will then take to the ice with skating at the Frog Pond, where rental skates will be made available to registered attendees at no cost along with a complimentary hot chocolate. Online registration is available here: blcxlwinter.eventbrite.com

“For forty years the Boston Landmarks Commission has worked to safeguard the character of our beloved City, from its iconic downtown buildings to its many vibrant neighborhoods,” said Mayor Walsh. “I encourage residents and visitors to take advantage of the BLC’s free programming and join us throughout this anniversary year as we mark these truly landmark achievements.”

Subsequent BLC XL events slated for 2015 include the BLC’s National Historic Preservation Month keynote event, to be held in May; a picnic and talk in Franklin Park, co-hosted by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, scheduled for July; and a harvest-themed archaeological program coinciding with National Archaeology Month in October. For upcoming event details and announcements, please follow the BLC on Facebook and Twitter (@COBLandmarks), visit their website at boston.gov/landmarks, and join our e-mail list by contacting Tonya Loveday at tonya.loveday@boston.gov.

5 Reasons to Attend Our Public Garden Lecture

 

Join the Friends and help care for three of Boston's most beloved greenspaces.

On February 4, the Friends will present, “Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden,” a lecture by Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan. It will be a fascinating exploration of the origin of America’s first public botanical garden, the changes it has gone through, and the importance of the garden and its contents today. Need more convincing? Here are five reasons you should attend Keith Morgan’s lecture:

  1. There is much more to the history of Boston’s Public Garden than you might think.
    Did you know that the beautiful botanical garden almost didn’t exist? The space was nearly approved for residential buildings.

  2. The pictures you have taken of the trees, ducklings, bridge, and plantings are, well, more than just pretty pictures.
    Learn stories behind of some of Boston’s most photographed scenes, like the famous books and art inspired by the Public Garden, including Robert McCloskey famous children’s book “Make Way for Ducklings” and Maurice Prendergast’s immense collection of sketches of the Public Garden.

  3. Hear about this journey of this historic place through time from a passionate historian.
    The bridge we now love was criticized when it was first built, Henry James calling it “exaggerated.”

  4. Was the Public Garden under water before it was the Public Garden?
    View historical maps to find out what Boston looked like as the Public Garden came to be. Hint: The stories of finding shells beneath the surface are no urban legend!

  5. This lecture is great way to be entertained while learning about the historic city of Boston, and celebrating one of its prized gems – the one, the only, the original Public Garden.
    Keith N. Morgan has He has over 30 years of experience teaching History of Art and Architecture at Boston University. He has served as the Director of Preservation Studies, the Director of American and New England Studies, and the Chairman of the Art History Department. He is a former national president of the Society of Architectural Historians, as well as a noted author of various publications on art and architecture.

Reserve your ticket today!