Rss Feed
Tweeter button
Facebook button

Archives for August 15, 2013

Reviving a Neighborhood

By now you may have been to — or heard of — the Arcata Playhouse, the cozy theatre on the ground floor of the Ninth Street Creamery building, with its roller-rink floor and rustic charm.

The pothole-spotted streets crisscrossing the neighborhood around the playhouse have long cloaked a concentration of creativity, from potters and stained glass-makers to painters, dancers and kinetic sculpture makers.

While the Arcata Community Recycling Center was a regular draw, and Halloween brought costumed crowds to the Kinetic Lab’s haunted house, it wasn’t until the last six or so years, with the opening of the Arcata Playhouse, that the area began to have a more public face.

The Playhouse reels in an eclectic potpourri of dance troupes, plays, bands and more and — next week — is expanding its scope outside the theater walls for an ambitious three-day festival stretched across several city blocks.

“The festival explores the whole neighborhood and what’s possible here,” said Arcata Playhouse co-owner Jackie Dandeneau. She wants to “blow the doors off a little bit.”

This re-envisioning is intended to put a public face on what’s becoming known as Arcata’s Creamery District, an outwardly industrial gateway to the Bottoms nestled under the asymmetrical creamery. Local artists, property owners and the playhouse owners dreamed up the “Creamery District” name a couple of years ago, to give the neighborhood a stronger identity as they worked with the city to improve it.

The facelift is moving quickly, and a year after receiving a $50,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant, Dandeneau and her husband David Ferney, who co-owns the playhouse, are putting together a summer spectacular.

With a healthy turnout, they expect the broader community can see the first results of a year-and-a-half-long collaboration of business owners, artists, residents and the city.

In the last several years, the district has seen new businesses, landscaping and public art. Small, affordable offices in the Greenway Partners building (formerly Yakima) now house the Northcoast Environmental Center, the Humboldt-Del Norte Film Commission and graphic designers Sideshow Design. Most recently, the playhouse commissioned works ranging from an audio installation to urban-style art on nearby storage units.

Aging industrial areas like the Creamery District can be havens for artists and startup businesses, said 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace. “You start with the areas where there’s a lot of vacant space,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be the most attractive of areas initially because its inward work, it’s not customer-driven work. After a while redevelopment is driven just by the amount of activity going on there.”

Jewelry maker Holly Yashi moved into the Creamery building around 1985. “It was the right place at the right price,” co-owner Paul Lubitz said. When a building across the street went up for sale, Holly Yashi bought it and moved in, eventually adding 10,000 square feet to the facility. Later, in 2010, it opened a retail shop. That had been co-owner Holly Hosterman’s idea, and Lubitz had reservations at first. “We’re hardly on the plaza,” he said. “Even the Arcata Plaza’s not Pier 39. It’s retail. It’s tough out there.”

But Hosterman’s vision turned out to be a success. Tourists and locals alike shop and watch jewelry-making in action in Holly Yashi’s fuschia-hued building. Lubitz credits part of that success to the draw of the playhouse, and he says the neighborhood would be even more successful with more artists and more reasons to stay — like food, beer and wine.

When the drop-off site of the now-defunct recycling center came up for sale, Holly Yashi pounced on it. While the new owners’ plans are “very up in the air,” Lubitz loosely envisions the 12,000-square-foot property as a kind of artists’ courtyard, where visitors can watch crafts being made and get food or a drink after a Playhouse show. They’ll give it a trial run at next week’s festival, with food, art demonstrations and festivities occupying the open air space.

“Everyone wants liveliness, they want art, they want life here,” Lubitz said.

They also welcome other businesses. The Creamery building hosts a solar refrigerator company and a dance studio along with artists’ studios.

What’s next? Ferney and Dandeneau plan to continue working with the city on ways to make the district more accessible from the plaza and beyond. That means better, contiguous lighting, safe crossings at K Street, and a look at traffic, parking, walking and bike paths.

Public Works Director Doby Class said Arcata has applied for a Caltrans grant to fund that development. “It’s a great project,” Class said, adding that the City Council recently designated the playhouse a “Local Arts Agency” to help it to secure more grant funding.

A proposed trail through the district, paralleling the unused rails on L Street, is in the environmental review stage, Class said, and expected to go before the California Transportation Commission in January.

Meanwhile, the neighborhood spirit is blossoming in other ways.

“Renegade gardening” has replaced rocky, weedy roadside grass patches with sunflowers and other colorful flora. After a day of planting earlier this month, three tall paintings appeared overnight at the end of Ninth Street, an uncommissioned gift from a mystery benefactor.

The revival has been driven by a good neighborhood communication, helped along by the liveliness of the playhouse, but its owners don’t want to claim too much credit. “We’re performers. We’re producers. We’re not civic organizers,” Dandeneau said.

Ferney and Dandeneau met in Edmonton, Canada. After traveling internationally for years, they were both hired by Dell’Arte. They opened the Arcata Playhouse together in 2007.

It was those years of travel and networking (“Once a street performer, always a street performer,” Dandeneau said) that gave them the contacts and know-how to attract talent for the playhouse — and for the upcoming festival. “Cross-pollinating” artists in and out of the area makes for a steady supply of talent, Dandeneau said.

Their motto: “Pay artists first,” even if it’s not much. “You’re not going to be able to give them a huge fee — if you can give them a good experience they’ll come back,” Dandeneau said.

They’ve paid out $250,000 to artists since the Playhouse opened in 2007, Ferney said, including $7,200 in commissioned street art this year. The pieces, imagined by five local artists, include sculpture, yarn-wrapped trees and an audio installation that will play during the creamery festival. They’re all outdoors.

Inspired by similar community-spurred neighborhood revitalizations in Portland and Detroit, Ferney and Dandeneau have long seen their neighborhood as ripe for revival. Their grant from the National Endowment of Arts’ helped bring their ideas to the attention of local businesses and governments, Dandeneau said.

“It put a huge stamp of credibility on the organization and the project,” she said. And while the city’s gotten on board, Dandeneau said, she hopes over time the county will do more to fully embrace the idea of the arts as an economic driver, in Arcata and beyond. County supervisors approved a $25,000 Headwaters Fund grant for the playhouse last year, and Dandeneau would like to see arts and culture highlighted in the county’s economic planning.

County Supervisor Lovelace said he’s a fan of the Creamery District revitalization, though its development is completely under the purview of the city.

“I’m all ears if there’s role for the county to play in developing that,” Lovelace said. “I think it’s really prime for a renaissance down there.”

Article source:

Students soaking up conservation lessons

Counselor Morgan Smith realized Camp Odyssey had a hold on her during her son’s bath time last week.

Current Subscribers – Activate Now

Already subscribe to Standard-Times ? Unlimited access to Standard-Times on the web, your smartphone and tablet is included with your subscription. All you will need to do is ACTIVATE now!

Activate Now

New Subscribers – Subscribe Now

Want to keep reading?
Standard-Times now offers Premium and Digital Subscriptions. Subscribe now and select how you want to keep up-to-date on local news, reader comments, photos, videos, blogs and more.

Subscribe Now

© 2013 San Angelo Standard Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Article source:

Chicago’s Waterfront Identity Crisis

Today’s Chicago lake shore has its roots in the leisure era of the late 19th century, when local business barons convinced the city to build a road along Lake Michigan for pleasure strolls and carriage rides. Hometown architect Daniel Burnham defended this vision for Lake Michigan in his 1909 “city beautiful” plan, arguing that “the Lakefront by right belongs to the people.”

Lake Shore Drive passes by Potter Palmer’s mansion on Chicago’s Near North Side, 1900. Courtesy Library of Congress.

A century later, it hasn’t quite turned out that way.

In Burnham’s image, Lake Shore Drive has become one of the city’s greatest treasures, with a sprawling museum campus, several beloved beaches and parks, and a highly trafficked hiker-biker trail. But the eight-lane artery, which runs between the city’s neighborhoods and its lakefront parks, is used by around 150,000 drivers and 75,000 bus riders a day for a quick trip downtown.

A 2011 blizzard that stranded at least 900 cars along Lake Shore Drive offered a visual reminder of just how essential the street had become for Chicago commuters. (John Gress/Reuters)

Now, the half-century-old infrastructure below the road is crumbling. As the city begins plans for an overhaul of the northern seven miles of the lakefront corridor, the tension between the two uses — peaceful public park versus what some have called “the most beautiful urban highway” — are becoming clear.

At a minimum, the city says fixing the weakened overpasses and entrance ramps along the drive would cost several hundred million dollars. But local boosters have grander ideas about “redefining the drive.” Is there a way, they wonder, to integrate the lakefront with the city — by transforming some of the overpasses into truly walkable intersections, for example — without disrupting the flow of traffic? Can the city add new public transport options without further erecting a barrier between city and lakefront?

Thom Greene/Greene and Proppe Design, Inc.

Last month, a coalition of 15 civic organizations released their answer. The “Our Lakefront” plan tries to balance the interests of drivers, public transit riders, bicyclists, and recreation enthusiasts. (It’s notable that the coalition itself has a busy job balancing these needs. Its members include groups as diverse as the Active Transportation Alliance, Chicago Area Runners Association, and Friends of Downtown). Their proposals have already dominated the local media attention given to the North Lake Shore Drive planning, and they have had strong showings at the three community meetings with the Illinois and Chicago departments of transportation.

The group presents an appealing image of their hopes for the corridor. The highway is transformed into a verdant, tree-lined boulevard, with high rises in the background, a low-trafficked roadway, a dedicated transit corridor, and a park with bike paths and a pedestrian walkway along the water. In part, they want to return to Burnham’s boulevard-in-a-park vision through expanded green space, better landscaping, and a controversial plan to reduce the speed limit to 35 miles per hour (the current limit, 40, is rarely enforced).

“People don’t like to be in places with cars zooming by at 60 miles an hour. It feels like a freeway,” says Lee Crandell, director of campaigns for the Active Transportation Alliance.

But there are some fresh ideas too. The plan includes additional public transit options. MarySue Barrett, the president of the Metropolitan Planning Council, says that discussion shouldn’t be stifled by a slavish commitment to Burnham’s century-old vision. “It’s also important for those of us here now that we put forth a vision to accommodate things that Burnham couldn’t have imagined at the time,” she says.

But these idyllic images quickly lead to more specific questions: Do we go for light rail or Bus Rapid Transit? Do we want to widen the car lanes, or make them narrower to encourage traffic to slow down? How will this shift impact Chicago’s already congested roadways?

In news coverage of last week’s community meetings, it seems as every interest group already feels slighted. There are the bicyclists who want a separate, high-speed path, and the pedestrians who hate the speeding bikes. And then there are the frustrated express bus riders who think traffic makes their journey far from express, and the motorists who fear the most basic purpose of the road is getting ignored in this discussion.

•       •       •       •       •

The questions confronting Lake Shore Drive are far from unique. Many reemerging cities are trying to revitalize waterways that have been cut off by heavily-used transit corridors. San Francisco’s Embarcadero, Chattanooga’s Riverfront Parkway and Portland’s Harbor Drive—all examples of this trend—have been hailed as major drivers of downtown rebirth.

John Norquist, the president of the Chicago-based Congress for the New Urbanism and a former Milwaukee mayor, is an advocate of this kind of bold approach. He still sees his efforts to tear down the Park East Freeway as a highlight of his 16 year administration. From Norquist’s point of view, Chicago’s lakefront parkland is an untapped economic resource. The lakefront, he explains, has been cut off from the rest of the city by a hulking concrete barrier with too many exit ramps and too few real connections to the city’s street grid. Norquist even goes so far as to compare the potential of the Lake Shore to Rio’s Ipanema or the Thames embankment in London. “I don’t think Chicago’s lakefront’s finest and greatest purpose is as a car route,” he says.

But Lake Shore Drive’s special status—both as a commuter artery and a beloved boulevard—may make that an impossibility in Chicago. “You don’t put an interstate on a postcard,” Barrett says. “Lake Shore Drive, because of where it is and how it’s designed, is our front door.”

Article source:

A majestic – and meticulously manicured – garden is right at home in the …

On a muggy Thursday afternoon, a trio of tourists walking through the Garden District stopped on the sidewalk in front of a grand house on Washington Avenue. They peered over the fence, getting a furtive glance at the garden.

On a quick look — say from the front seat of a car zooming down busy Washington Avenue — it’s easy to miss the elegant parterre that stretches across the side yard of the house, an 1855 masterpiece designed by New Orleans’ most famous 19th century architect, James Gallier, and commissioned by James Robb, a prominent businessmen of the time. But from the sidewalk you can get a partial view of the magnificent yard.

Behind the hedges

THE GARDEN: A formal parterre in front and a lushly landscaped pool and patio in the back of a Garden District house

THE OWNERS: Cherie and Jonathan Thompson

THE DETAILS: Though the Thompsons started from scratch when they renovated the yards, the formal front garden mirrors a design that has been part of the 1855 House for at least two decades, if not longer. Symmetrical beds feature cone and sphere-shaped boxwoods, two espaliered European olive trees and a fountain the couple had moved from their previous home, creating a majestic — and meticulously manicured — space

WHY THEY LOVE IT: “I love shapely boxwoods. I just think they’re fun,” Cherie Thompson said. “Along the wall in the backyard are (Miami Supreme) gardenias. They’re so fragrant they just fill the air when they’re in bloom.”

The landscape is half hidden behind a close-clipped hedge of Japanese yew. It’s not exactly a secret garden, but it has a storybook air — somewhere you’d expect to see a princess, perhaps — when you peek behind the hedge and see the circular brick paths, tidy trimmed boxwoods and tiered fountain, its trickling water providing a natural soundtrack.

Parterres are painstakingly disciplined gardens. The tradition of planting beds in puzzle-like patterns and ornamental shapes became popular in 17th century Europe, where it was de rigueur for royal estates. The sophisticated style, according to several landscaping sources, grew out of medieval knot gardens, which separated plants from each other by small hedges.

Cherie and Jonathan Thompson love the symmetry of the classic design and found it fitting for the stately Garden District home they bought in 2007. Before moving in, the couple began a cosmetic renovation of the house, but also turned their attention to the landscape. The 5,000-square-foot home had few views of the garden, a problem the couple solved by adding additional windows.

A parterre was already in place in front, but the bricks were pulling up and it needed refurbishing. The backyard was dominated by a series of space-consuming sago palms (which, despite their common name, aren’t palms, but cycads.) The Thompsons decide a swimming pool would be preferable to the spiky sagos.

The couple engaged landscape architect Rene J.L. Fransen to design the yard, which now maintains its formality but provides a refuge for relaxation for the couple and their 10-month-old daughter, Claire.

Many old New Orleans houses traditionally featured formal gardens, Fransen said, though, it’s unknown if this house’s first owner planted one. The front parterre has been in place at least for two decades, if not longer.

The gardens of historic New Orleans homes often “had a rigid formality to the beds, but they had vegetables and fruit trees and things like that in them,” Fransen said. “They didn’t have free-form beds, but, because of the nature of the climate, the gardens weren’t formal because things grew like wild.”

In the Thompsons’ yard, Fransen pulled up the parterre’s bricks and re-laid them. The brick paths define the garden’s geometry as do neatly planted needlepoint hollies and Japanese yews. Shaped boxwoods, not a leaf out of place, are living finials, sprouting from the center of the beds.

The fountain, which was a beloved item from the couple’s previous home in the Irish Channel, became the centerpiece of the space, replacing a previous fountain that had been in the Garden District yard.

“It’s supposed to have koi in it,” Jonathan said, passing the fountain as he unlocked the gate that leads from the front to the backyard. “But right now, it just has a turtle.”

The wall and gate that borders the front garden was moved and rebuilt to make more room for the backyard. The gate opens to a slender pool and spacious patio. Traditional elements — New York red flagstone laid out in a diamond pattern, a large, urn-shaped fountain and Bevolo lights — echo the formality of the front yard, while lush gardens, framed by a green wall of Japanese blueberry trees, make it feel relaxed enough for hanging out.

“This pool comfortably seats 20 people,” said Cherie, who proved that statement during one of the couple’s outdoor parties. The pool’s long, narrow design also makes it good for lap swimming.

The Thompsons hired NOLA + Design, a landscape company owned by Aaron Adolph and Jonathan Steudlein, to handle the planting and maintenance for the entire property.

A pair of navel orange trees, loaded with still-green fruit, now flank the steps to the pool, while planters and beds are filled with blue plumbago, giant walking iris, dwarf white Robin Hill azaleas and a Japanese red maple.

One of the yard’s showpiece plants is an Anderson crepe hibiscus, with pale pink flowers and dark green foliage, trained to grow up a custom ironwork arch separating the driveway from pool area.

A covered patio is the place where the couple likes to sit with their coffee on weekend mornings and unwind with a glass of wine after a workday; Jonathan is in the film industry and Cherie is an accountant for a local non-profit.

Around the yard are two bronze statues — Lazarus and Isadora — both by Folsom sculptor William Binnings, Cherie’s uncle. “I have loved that statue (of Lazarus) for years,” she said.

The yard provides plenty of room for entertaining, with tables and outdoor seating, including a tiny iron and wood bistro set, shrunk down to child’s size. Cherie got it on her third birthday, and her parents held onto it even after she grew up.

When the Thompsons had Claire, Cherie’s parents gave the set to them, and Jonathan refinished it, adding a fresh coat of white paint. It now looks ready to host a new generation of tiny tea parties.

“This is another living room,” Cherie said. “It’s where we relax.”

Article source:

Homes & Gardens events in Oregon for Aug. 17-24

Events are free unless noted. Fees usually include materials; call to confirm. All area codes are 503 unless noted.


Sabin Bee-friendly Garden
Get ideas for which plants are most attractive to bees and butterflies in these tours of yards in the Sabin neighborhood.
When: Front yard tours are offered daily at any hour through Sept. 2 (front yards are visible from sidewalk with signs posted).
Tickets: Free
Details: or
Sponsor: Portland’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement and the Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods

Multnomah Garden Club
Tour historic Multnomah Village and beyond through private gardens. The seven gardens provide inspiration for native materials, small ponds and fountains and gardens for kids.
When: Noon-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17
Tickets: $15
Details: 704-0913

Manzanita Homes
Tour homes in the Manzanita and Neahkahnie beach areas.
When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24
Tickets: $10; available on tour day at the Pine Grove Community Club, 225 Laneda Ave., Manzanita
Details: 368-7002
Benefits: Kiwanis Club of Manza-Whee-Lem and Women’s Club of Manzanita North County



“Behind the Shoji”: Art and craft show features new artists and new works from longtime favorites. Japanese-inspired original artwork and gifts include handmade ceramics, glass, jewelry, textiles, furniture and more. During garden hours 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, noon-7 p.m. Monday, through Sept. 8. Japanese Garden, 611 S.W. Kingston Ave.; free with garden admission ($6.75-$9.50); or 223-1321

Art in the Garden: Monthly rotation of works by local artists inspired by the beauty of Lan Su Chinese Garden. August: Wuon Gean Ho and Ian Boyden. Ends Aug. 31. Lan Su Chinese Garden, Northwest Third Avenue and Everett Street; free with garden admission ($7-$9.50); or 228-8131



Greater Portland Iris Society: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Includes demonstrations on how to lift and divide your iris plants. Aug. 24-25 and Sept. 21-22: beardless irises. Portland Nursery, 5050 S.E. Stark St.; or 360-835-1016

Dahlia Festival: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Monday, Aug. 24-26 and Aug. 31-Sept. 2. Flowers for sale, food vendors, face-painting and bounce house, live music, demonstrations and more. Swan Island Dahlias, 995 N.W. 22nd Ave., Canby; or 266-7711

Jewel Box Plant Sale: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Seven specialty nurseries — members of the Cascade Nursery Trail — get together for this sale. Sebright Gardens, 7185 Lakeside Drive N.E., Salem; or 463-9615



Summertime Bonsai Maintenance for Beginners: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tsugawa staff will share knowledge and advice for keeping your bonsai in top shape during summer and demonstrate what that means. Registration required. Tsugawa Nursery, 410 E. Scott Ave., Woodland, Wash.; or 360-225-8750


Basics of Bamboo in the Garden: 1 p.m. Portland Nursery, 5050 S.E. Stark St.; or 231-5050

Fairy Garden: 1 p.m. Plants used are mostly herbs, so they can be grown indoors or out. The Wade Creek House, 664 Wade St., Estacada; $35, includes all materials; or 630-7556


Nature Illustration for Children: Ages 9-14 study how flowers, leaves and other things in nature are constructed and create a detailed botanical drawing from life. Supplies provided. Registration required. One-day class offered weekly 9 a.m.-noon. Wednesdays, through Aug. 28. Leach Botanical Garden, 6704 S.E. 122nd Ave.; $13-$15 per class, $42-$50 series; or 823-1671

“Gardens of Eatin’: Edible Landscaping: 5-6 p.m. Learn easy organic care and best varieties of berries, grapes, tree fruits, culinary herbs and more. Hosted by Metro and OSU Extension Service. Moreland Farmers Market, Southeast Bybee Boulevard and 14th Avenue; or 341-9350


Botanical Workshop: Three-day botanical watercolor workshop with René Eisenbart. Develop skills for rendering detail, study value and composition, and explore creative use of color. Registration accepted until Aug. 22. Sessions held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Aug. 23-25. Oregon Society of Artists, 2185 S.W. Park Place; $275; or 890-9668 or


The Many Pleasures of Irises: 1 p.m. Chad Harris, of Mt. Pleasant Iris, president of the Greater Portland Iris Society, talks about irises that can be grown in the Northwest, with their varied cultural needs: wet to dry, sun to shade. Plus demonstration on dividing. Portland Nursery, 5050 S.E. Stark St.; or 231-5050

Click for public gardens.

Calendar items run on a space-available basis. Please submit notices at least one month before the event to Homes Gardens Listings Desk, The Oregonian, 1320 S.W. Broadway, Portland, OR 97201; or by email (send as a plain text file, with Homes Gardens in the subject line) to Except for cancellations and corrections, notices cannot be accepted by phone.

Article source:

Conservation Gardens plans Aug. 17 event

With a little extra time and education, its possible to have a beautiful yard while conserving water, even in this desert valley.

On Saturday, Aug. 17, the Jordan Valley Conservation Gardens will host Growing Together: Party in the Garden Park, to celebrate the grand opening of a state-of-the-art education center dedicated to promoting water-wise gardening.

Therell be a lot of activities for children and fresh food for sale at kind-of a farmers market, Programs Manager Courtney Brown said. Well have a labyrinth for people to go through, chalk art, art projects and much more.

The free event runs from 4-8 p.m. and will also feature a 6 p.m. butterfly release, clowns, magicians and dozens of sustainability-themed booths and activities.

Its really a family event, and our hope is that the communities will come. Its their garden. Its a water-wise garden, event organizer Cyndie Kindred said.

The gardens, located at 8275 South 1300 West, opened in 2000 to give Salt Lake residents ideas on how to conserve water in their own backyards.  The original 3 acres were divided into different landscape themes, with water-wise plants labeled throughout the property.

In 2009, the gardens expanded to include an additional 2.5 acres of interactive exhibits.  During this expansion, plans were already being drawn up for the construction of an innovative regional learning facility on garden property.

This newly-completed education center will allow garden workers and volunteers enhanced opportunities to share water-wise landscaping methods with visitors.

Our ultimate goal, really, is water conservation, Brown said. When people come to the garden, no matter what the activity is, theres going to be a certain message they receive as they walk around and see the exhibits. Were about having sustainable landscapes and conserving water.

The new building was designed not only to educate the public about gardening, but also to achieve the highest level of energy standards set by the United States Green Council. The facility meets the standards for sustainable site development, water and energy conservation, material selection and indoor environmental quality.

The conservation gardens and education center are free to the public and open year-round.  In addition to accommodating tours and classes for individuals and community organizations, the new building will also facilitate the education of youth across the valley. Each year, approximately 5,000 school-aged children visit the property on environmental encounters to learn about the water-cycle and the importance of using water wisely.

“This is a place where the community can come together [and learn about] sustainability of all kinds,” Kindred said.

Article source:

The Trustees of Reservations Announce Restoration of Gardens & Iconic …

  • Email a friend

Naumkeag's Fletcher Steele-Designed Blue Steps, Restored  Celebrating their 75th Anniversary. Photo courtesy of Michael Lavin Flower.

Naumkeag’s Fletcher Steele-Designed Blue Steps, Restored Celebrating their 75th Anniversary. Photo courtesy of Michael Lavin Flower.

Like our recent landscape restoration of the Grand Allée at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, we take our responsibility as caretakers of these magnificent cultural resources very seriously, says Barbara Erickson, Trustees President and CEO.

Stockbridge, MA (PRWEB) August 14, 2013

The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) have announced the completion of Phase One of an extensive garden and landscape transformation happening at Naumkeag, a National Historic Landmark located in the picturesque Berkshires of Massachusetts. Designed by McKim, Mead White in 1885, Naumkeag is a rare, surviving example of a Gilded Age Berkshire cottage. The historic home and magnificent gardens are visited by thousands of garden, landscape and history enthusiasts from around the world each year.

The first phase of the three-year, five-phase project included the restoration of the renowned Blue Steps on the 75th anniversary of their creation, as well as several other important garden features. The Blue Steps were originally designed for Naumkeag’s former owner, Mabel Choate, by America’s first modern landscape architect, Fletcher Steele. One of the most famous and photographed garden features in 20th-century American landscape design, The Blue Steps are a true expression of Steele’s belief that garden design should be considered one of the fine arts.

Naumkeag’s gardens are a masterpiece of 30 years of collaborative, creative work by Choate and Steele. They are one of the nation’s finest examples of early American modern landscape architecture and a rare surviving example of Steele’s remaining work still open to the public.

The first phase of the $3-million restoration effort, supported initially by a generous anonymous donor who has pledged to match up to $1 million in donations, began this spring with the repointing, repainting and re-grouting of the Blue Steps, along with the removal and replanting of 48 new white birch trees that elegantly frame them. In addition, The Trustees, with the help of Mayer Tree Service, also removed damaged and overgrown trees located throughout several areas around the hillside estate, including along the Linden Allée, a once-verdant pathway modeled after the wooded walks of Germany, located a few yards away from the Blue Steps. More than 200 trees of various shapes and sizes have been planted amongst the gardens this spring, following Fletcher Steele’s original tactic of overplanting to create a fuller, richer garden scape. Other restoration accomplishments have included updating garden infrastructure, electrical and water systems, and fountains, as well as the extensive restoration the South Lawn stonework, plantings and Chinese Pagoda.

Mabel Choate bequeathed the Naumkeag property to The Trustees in 1958 to care for and keep open for the public to enjoy. Over the last 10 years, The Trustees have worked diligently to restore several of Naumkeag’s signature garden areas, including the Peony Terrace, Chinese Temple, and Evergreen Garden. Since then, additional aspects of the garden have suffered the effects of time as well as damage from harsh New England weather. Original plantings have aged or disappeared, trees have become unhealthy and overgrown resulting in obstructed views and certain structural and design features have deteriorated. As a result, The Trustees have increased the pace of their restoration efforts to bring all eight landscaped acres surrounding Naumkeag back to their former brilliance and original design.

Thanks to a carefully planned preservation effort being lead by Cindy Brockway, Trustees’ Cultural Resources Program Director and Mark Wilson, Statewide Curator and Western Regional Cultural Resources Manager and supported by a team of staff, volunteers, artisans and consultants, the Naumkeag gardens are undergoing a dramatic renaissance designed to ensure their beauty and vitality can be appreciated by all for many years to come.

“Like our recent landscape restoration of the Grand Allée at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, we take our responsibility as caretakers of these magnificent cultural resources very seriously,” says Barbara Erickson, Trustees President and CEO. “Since the iconic gardens at Naumkeag are one of only a few Fletcher Steele–designed gardens viewable to the public, we want visitors to be able to experience them in their full and original brilliance. Mabel Choate chose to bequeath her family home to The Trustees knowing it would be lovingly maintained and shared with generations to come. It is part of our mission and true passion, as envisioned by our founder Charles Eliot, to ensure their exemplary care for everyone, forever.

“Few properties in the country reflect the American transition to French Modernism better than Naumkeag,” says Brockway. “But after more than 50 years, the gardens need a refresh and a rejuvenation of the intricate details of scale, furnishings and plantings that made Naumkeag a work of fine art. By the end of the project, few landscapes in the country will have seen such a detailed restoration.”

Many other important structural, cultural and natural garden and landscape features located throughout Naumkeag will also be restored, replicated and reinvigorated over the next two years through a total of 16 projects, most of which will include rebuilding, and in some cases reproducing, foundational elements such as fountains and waters systems, masonry, decorative arts and original plantings.

“We are excited to refresh some of the key planting and design elements that were so important to Mabel’s and Fletcher’s original intentions for this special property,” says Wilson. “Whether it is the variety of plant material lost over time, the overgrown secret pathways or the damaged decorative art objects, artifacts and garden sculptures, our goal is to document every step of the process so future caretakers will be able to use our preservation plan as a reference guide and model for authentic garden restoration.”

Conducting extensive behind-the-scenes research and planning over many months, Wilson, Brockway, and their team have carefully culled hundreds of original design plans, historic photos, notes, letters and documents from Fletcher Steele and Mabel Choate in order to create a thorough and authentic restoration plan that will bring back the “polish” and “shine” to Naumkeag’s gardens.

Support: The ongoing work at Naumkeag is supported by the Campaign to Restore Naumkeag, a 3-year, $3 million initiative that includes a $1million challenge grant. Contributions raised toward this Challenge now total $762,000 – with $238,000 to go by September 30, 2013. Additional, funds have recently been received by the Stockbridge Community Preservation Act ($35,000) and Massachusetts Cultural Council ($128,000). For more information on the restoration project and/or how to support the campaign, please visit:

About the Leadership Team: Lucinda A. Brockway is the Cultural Resources Program Director for The Trustees. She oversees the care and interpretation of the cultural landscapes on the organization’s 111 properties, including five National Historic Landmarks. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of Rhode Island and Boston University, she ran her own firm, Past Designs (Kennebunk, ME) for 25 years before joining The Trustees. Her Past Designs work included such well-known public projects as Fort Ticonderoga’s garrison grounds and Le Jardin du Roi (Ticonderoga, NY), Newport’s public and private Bellevue Avenue estates, the Fells (Newbury, NH), the Battle Green (Lexington, MA), and several projects for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, including the opening of Philip Johnson’s Glass House (New Canaan, CT). Her private residential designs have won recognition throughout the country.

Mark Wilson is the Curator of Collections and West Region Cultural Resources Manager for The Trustees. He has 24 years of experience in the museum profession, including positions at The Trustees of Reservations, the Nantucket Historical Association, and The Clara Barton Birthplace Museum. Mr. Wilson has a Master’s Degree from Brown University in the History of Art and Architecture and a Bachelor of Arts in Archaeology from Connecticut College. He is experienced in the use of archival materials for project research and large-scale project development, budget and resource management, and on-time project completion.

About the Trustees of Reservations: The Trustees of Reservations (The Trustees) “hold in trust” and care for properties, or “reservations,” of scenic, cultural, and natural significance for the general public to enjoy. Founded by open space visionary Charles Eliot in 1891, The Trustees are the nation’s oldest, statewide land trust and one of Massachusetts’ largest conservation organizations. Supported by more than 100,000 members and donors and thousands of volunteers, The Trustees own and manage 111 spectacular reservations — including working farms with Community Supported Agriculture programs, historic homesteads and gardens, community parks, barrier beaches and mountain vistas — located on more than 26,000 acres throughout the Commonwealth. In addition, The Trustees work closely with permanent affiliates including Boston Natural Areas Network and the Hilltown Land Trust. The Trustees work to preserve and protect these special places for current and future generations and offer hundreds of outreach programs, workshops, and events annually, designed to engage all ages in their mission. Accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, The Trustees are an established leader in the conservation and preservation movement and model for other land trusts nationally and internationally. To find out more or to become a member or volunteer, please contact

Please also visit us at:

Email a friend



Article source:

TK Maxx to open in Covent Garden

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

TK Maxx, the discount retailer, is to open a store on Long Acre in London’s Covent


The new retail venture is the former Next space, and is likely to raise eyebrows amongst the Covent Garden committee who are trying to raise the profile of the shopping district by attracting more luxury brands and high-end consumers.

Next is choosing to exit the store to focus on its other units in central London.

Article source: