Meet the Friends: Anne Swanson, a Passionate and Longtime Friend

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Anne Swanson has been a member of the Friends almost since the early 1980s.  Before joining, Anne volunteered picking trash up in the Public Garden. Through this activity Anne met other people just as passionate about the parks and discovered the Friends of the Public Garden. She quickly got involved and used her editing skills by volunteering to help with programming for the Victorian Promenade, created in the 1970s by the Friends to bring attention to the parks with a positive and festive event. Anne remembers The Victorian Promenades fondly: people dressed in period costume, a croquet game played in whites, and one year Henry Lee dressed in his great-grandfather’s military uniform! History was brought to life with the Promenades.

One of Anne’s favorite things about the three parks the Friends cares for is their deep and rich histories that few parks can claim. The Public Garden’s origins as the first public botanical garden in the country, and the efforts of Bostonians to ensure that it would remain a public garden, make it special. The Boston Common boasts centuries of history, but the Shaw/54th Regiment Memorial stands out. Anne says, “One can’t look at it [Shaw Memorial] without thinking of its historic impact.” The piece created by celebrated American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens commemorates the first regiment of African American soldiers who fought in the Civil War. The Commonwealth Avenue Mall is her backyard, an essential part of the Back Bay community. Another volunteer effort of Anne’s was creating cards for the Friends that featured historic etchings of the Mall. Anne has spent countless volunteer hours on behalf of the Friends and is a member of the Board of Directors. As a board member she loves working with a dedicated group of people sharing a common mission and finds the way it all comes together to be fascinating.

A sense of community is what inspired Anne to volunteer and to be committed to the preservation and enhancement of these parks. She wants everyone to know that anyone can be a part of this community that cares for the parks. She recalls one of her favorite memories that depict the passionate commitment of this group: elm trees were ailing, and back in the 1960s Ted Weeks, Dan Ahern, and Stella Trafford worked tirelessly to save them by injecting disease-fighting fungicide into the trees using bicycle pumps. These veteran park lovers mentored the present group of stewards who are now reaching out to educate future generations through events such as Duckling Day and Making History on the Common. For Anne, the preservation of these parks is essential for their “function beyond greenspace by fostering community filled with history that accumulates to a spiritual quality.”

Caring for Boston’s Outdoor Treasures

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Photo: Sarah Hutt

Summer has begun which means the outdoor work of the Friends sculpture care program is in swing. Mr. Hale (pictured) in the Public Garden is one of eight pieces conservators are caring for this year as part of the Friends Sculpture Care Program. Another 10 pieces of public art are in the process of being cleaned and maintained. This work is not only necessary, it is also newsworthy.  The Boston Globe recently ran a piece about the behind-the-scenes efforts involved in caring for these historic works of art in the article, “They get the gunk off Boston’s outdoor treasures.”

Boston Common Frog Pond Wading Pool Opening July 1

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Boston Parks Commissioner Chris Cook and The Skating Club of Boston president Joe Blount will welcome children and guests to kick off the 2015 summer season as the Boston Common Frog Pond reopens on Wednesday, July 1. The day will include a fun and exciting celebration at 11 a.m. followed by the opening of the wading pool.
“Boston’s youngest residents are ready to cool off from the heat as the Frog Pond wading pool opens for the season,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I hope all of our residents are able to enjoy the Common this summer. This is a great place for families to relax with a carousel, food concessions, and the Swan Boats all within walking distance.”
In addition to activities from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., information regarding upcoming summer programs offered by the City of Boston and the Boston Public Health Commission will be available to families and residents and tasty treats will be provided by in-kind sponsors HP Hood LLC, Cabot Cheese. DAVIDsTEA, and Polar Beverages.
The celebration will feature a special visit from official mascot Frog Pond Freddie, entertainment, face painting, books courtesy of ReadBoston, and giveaways from Mix 104.1 FM. In addition, children of all ages are eligible to enter a summer raffle.

The Frog Pond spray pool will be open for wading daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. until Labor Day. Visit http://www.bostonfrogpond.com for more information.

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.

Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden with Keith N. Morgan

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The Friends of the Public Garden presents “Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden,” a lecture by Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan.

Join us as we consider the creation, evolution, criticism, interpretation and enduring value of the most unusual public landscape in the city’s circuit of parks. From its origins as a private botanical garden built on filled marshland to the public horticultural and educational gem of the mid-Victorian era, the Public Garden became a site for controversy and celebration in its nearly two-century history.

Keith N. Morgan is a professor of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University, where he has taught since 1980. 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.

His publications include Charles A. Platt. The Artist as Architect (1985); Boston Architecture, 1975-1990, written with Naomi Miller (1990); Shaping an American Landscape: The Art and Architecture of Charles A. Platt (1995); the introduction for the new edition of Italian Gardens by Charles A. Platt (1993); and an introduction to a new edition of Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect (1999).   Professor Morgan was the editor and one of the lead authors for Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, (2009).   With Elizabeth Hope Cushing and Roger Reed, he has recently published Community by Design: the Olmsted Office and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts, 1880-1936, (Library of American Landscape History and the University of Massachusetts Press 2013).

Wednesday, February 4
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street, Boston
Admission: $15.00 per person (Pre-registration is required. Photo ID is needed to check-in.)
Purchase tickets

A Holiday Message from Our Historic Greenspaces

Photo: Brewer Fountain by Elizabeth Jordan

If the trees could speak to you, which we have been told happens on occasion, or sculptures could share what they see from their unique vantage points, what would they say? They would be thanking you for the gifts you have given to our greenspaces this year.

We don’t think the trees, turf, sculpture and many special spaces within the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall would mind if we thanked you on their behalf. Speaking on their behalf is part of our mission after all, a mission we are so grateful you share with us.

Thank you for caring for these treasured places. We know that you love them – you show it through your volunteerism, advocacy, stewardship, and financial support – and they love you for it. How do we know? A tree told us.

This holiday season, dear Friends, we wish you and yours joy and peace. We look forward to working together with you in 2015 to continue maintaining and enhancing these irreplaceable gems in our midst.

Reflections and Holiday Wishes from Anne Brooke

Dear Friends,

It is hard to believe that we will be bidding 2014 farewell in just a few days. As I reflect on the year, I am so grateful to my fellow Board members, our wonderful Members, volunteers, donors, and our terrific Executive Director and staff. Your efforts and support are noticed, needed, and much appreciated. Bravo to all.

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This year of the Friends will be remembered for many things, perhaps most notably for the completion of the most ambitious project we have ever taken on, the multi-year rejuvenation of Brewer Fountain Plaza and the surrounding parkland on Boston Common. This $4 million investment by the Friends was made possible by contributions from more than 260 individuals, corporations and foundations. We capped this project off in November, somewhat literally, with the installation of cast iron fencing at the edge of the Common near Park Street. The historic fence had been missing since 1895! Now, our role will be one of ongoing stewardship of this area in partnership with the Parks and Recreation Department. It is such a pleasure to see people enjoying this renewed area of the Common and to know that our work will continue to be appreciated by them and generations to follow.

As we celebrateBell Ringers CAM-4 this holiday season, we were thrilled to bring you sounds of the season by hosting several hand bell performances in our parks by the popular Back Bay Ringers. We hope you were able to take a moment to stop by and enjoy the music.

We are so very fortunate to have supporters that truly love our parks and our mission to preserve and enhance them. If you have not renewed your membership, please remember to do so by the end of the year; we need you and our parks need you. Please also introduce us to your friends that may be interested in learning more about our work and joining us in supporting it.

Wishing you a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Anne Brooke
Chair, Board of Directors