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.)
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Parks Department to monitor Dutch Elm Bark Beetle

As part of the ongoing maintenance of elm trees in the Boston Common, Public Garden and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, the City, in partnership with The Friends of the Public Garden, has been working on an elm bark beetle monitoring program.  This new approach is in line with current integrated pest management (IPM) strategies to reduce the amount of chemicals used to control harmful insect populations.  The traps set will give us important data on the elm beetle populations such as numbers of beetles and timing of their generational hatching, this data will then help us form a more effective and environmentally friendly management program.

The traps themselves will be 18.5″x 28″ plywood painted green with a pheromone trap in the center, attached to trees at a height of about 15′.  The current plan is to have 4 each in the Common and Public Garden and 3 in the Fenway Victory garden.  Each trap must be at least 150′ away from any elm trees which is why they cannot be placed on the Mall.  There will be signage included explaining the function of the traps, and the Park line as a contact number for any questions.  There are no pesticides involved in the traps.  The traps will go up no earlier than the first of March and will be removed no later than the first of October.

Brewer Fountain Construction Moving Forward

The Brewer Fountain construction project began as a vision to rejuvenate Boston’s public space. The Boston Common is central to the community and has always been an enjoyable public venue. Renovations to the Brewer Fountain and surrounding plaza, which are being completed in several phases, will serve to enhance this already welcoming space.

The first phase of the project is to restore the fountain itself, which was completed in May of 2010, and to construct the surrounding plaza, make landscape and hardscape improvements including a new storm draining system, irrigation system and pathway improvements.  This portion of the restoration should be completed in time for Spring. Currently, posted signs provide information about detour routes and the anticipated completion date. Come springtime 2012, the Brewer Fountain Plaza will include folding chairs and tables-some with umbrellas- a reading room, a gourmet food truck and, an additional perk, live piano music during lunch.
In phase two, more hardscape and landscape improvements are scheduled. These changes will match improvements made to the Common along Tremont St and in front of the Lowes theaters and Ritz Carlton. New fencing and a green strip will separate the park from Tremont Street. The original fence that provided a barrier
between the Common and the street was taken down at the turn of the 20th century while the subway was being built. Today the park and street seem to bleed into one another; the addition of a green, grassy strip will restore a sense of separation, defining the Common as its own space and an escape from the city streets. The pathway improvements will enhance the connection from Park St. station to the Brewer Plaza and help define the alignment of the Liberty Mall pathway. This final phase should be complete sometime in spring 2013. 

Related News:

Some of the construction you’ve seen is not related to the fountain renovation. The MBTA is also doing some work on the Common, installing a head house for a new elevator, providing increased handicapped accessibility to the Park Street Station. That project is expected to be finished in fall of 2012.

When the project is complete visitors to the fountain will be able to enjoy a delightful space with an incredible view of the State House.

Preservation a priority for Benches Carved in Stone

The summer was rife with activity for the Public Garden, Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. In addition to many exciting community activities Friends have been working hard to ensure the preservation of our most beloved monuments.

You may recall a recent post describing the restoration and rededication of the Civil War Bench by the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War (for the full story click here).  The Civil War bench is one of four stone benches on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The other benches are the Howard Bench, the Merwin Bench and the Dewart Bench. Each has a unique history and this summer they all received some much needed attention.

Below are photos of the recently restored benches. Check out this article in the Back Bay Sun for a brief description of the history of each of these great commemorative monuments.

Dewart Bench- Near Dartmouth Street, this bench is inscribed in memory of William Herbert Dewart and his wife, Elizabeth Haven Dewart.
Merwin Bench- Near Berkeley Street, this bench is dedicated to Henry Childs Merwin. Members of the Merwin family contributed funds for it's rejuvenation.
Howard Bench- Located near Arlington Street and dedicated to Charles Pagelsen Howard. This memorial was designed by artist Joseph Coleth. Photo courtesy of Clueless in Boston.
Civil War Bench Dedication. Erected by the Massachusetts Department Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War in 1861 and restored by the same group this summer.

Brewer Fountain Closer to Completion Every Day!

The Brewer fountain and plaza are beginning to show signs of completion. Newly planted elms give the plaza a welcoming air and also help to define the space, creating part of the outdoor room of the Brewer plaza area. The informal bosque of trees behind the Brewer truly help frame the fountain as a terminal point.
Brewer Fountain
This exciting panorama shows the Brewer Fountain as it sits within the newly planted elm trees.
Below is an image of one of the Homestead Elms recently planted in the plaza. In maturity, these fast growing elms will reach a height of almost 60 feet and have a branch spread of almost 35 feet. Dark green leaves will turn a rich yellow in fall. The elms will serve to accentuate the Liberty Mill pathways and will help enhance the designated axis between the State House, Shaw Memorial and the Brewer Fountain.
Just one example of the newly planted Homestead Elms.
It will be such a wonderful change to be able to stroll up to this beautiful fountain. The project grows closer to completion each day and we are all eager to be able to enjoy the enhanced beauty of the Brewer fountain and the space in which it sits.  It is an exciting time to see the project come together. There will be many changes happening in the construction site over the next few weeks, check back here for updates!
This image shows the actual grade of the Brewer plaza once completed.

32 Elms to be planted at Brewer Fountain Site!

Just yesterday, 32 Homestead Elms arrived on site at the Brewer Fountain Plaza, with planting scheduled over the next several days. Those looking forward to the completed project should see this as a large step in the right direction. Many noticeable changes to the observer of the Brewer Fountain progress will be taking place over the next month. As this project reaches for completion the site will appear more and more refined and begin to show what everyone has been waiting for.

Trees on site and ready to be planted.

The image below is a panorama of the Brewer Plaza. What is significant about this image is that for the first time the design intent of the plaza can be clearly shown.

An earlier image shows the detail of the plaza radius curbing.