KENNETT SQUARE Dancing fountains topped with a flame, one reaching heights of 175 feet, fountains with amazing color possibilities are some of the new delights that visitors will experience this summer at Longwood Gardens. For those who wish for more serene moments there is a Grotto to meditate in and luscious gardens within the Main Fountain Garden as water flows through sculptured pieces.
Longwood Gardens will reopen their Main Fountain Garden on May 27. The fountain garden has been closed since October, 2014. The renovations are beyond the imagination of Pierre S. du Pont. du Pont opened the Fountain Garden in 1931 inspired by fountains and gardens in Europe and the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago.
Paul B. Redman, President and CEO led the media tour as workers finished up the $90 million dollar revitalization project. The Main Fountain Garden will be revealed as part of Longwood Gardens Summer of Spectacle.
The project includes the preservation of du Pont’s original design with the complete restoration of the limestone fountains. Over 4,282 pieces of Italian and Indiana limestone were restored. Fifty nine of Marble and Serpentine and 814 pieces are new to replace those beyond repair.
The South wall, based on a traditional Italian garden hasn’t worked for over 25 years and an entire generation has never experienced it according to Redman.
The Main Fountain Garden was the last major construction project that du Pont designed and has dazzled many throughout the years.
“In October 2014 when it came time for maintenance and repairs of the project and when we began working on the planning for the revitalization on the Main Fountain Garden, we had several paths we could have taken, one path would be straight up ,pure renovation and preservation project. Preserving it in place as it was stone by stone and keeping the landscape as it was, “said Redman.
“There were very serious maintenance issues and an aging system used nonstop till 2014… Knowing this and what we were dealing with we made a decision, that wouldn’t it be great if we could achieve all these great engineering and maintenance goals, and build a system that eased the maintenance and bring in new technology,” said Redman
Redman continued, “Looking at our founder, his innovation and driving force and his legacy, we approached the main garden revitalization project with a new set of eyes, sensitivity to the past to preserve what was there and to have new features and experiences never seen before.”
The creation of a new mechanical and electrical infrastructure will allow for 141 individual controllable effects, 1,340 new jets and streams with the tallest jet reaching 175 feet and even a flame that erupts atop a ten foot tall water jet.
There are three new underground tanks holding 338,570 gallons of water. New linear feet of tunnels were added to create easier access for the 1,389 LED lights that will create infinite color combinations.
The garden design with boxwood shrubs and walkways lined with trees increases space and includes stairs on the east and west sides of the garden and an elevator allowing guests to access the Fountain Overlook. The Pumphouse Plaza will have café seating so patrons can eat feeling that they are in outside European garden. Walking down steps one will find a dimly lit Grotto for quiet meditation in a tranquil setting to get in touch with one’s spirituality through the serenity of flowing water and fountains.
The historic Pump Room and galleries will exhibit the original 18 pumps and mechanical systems that powered the fountains from 1931 to 2014. A tribute to du Pont, whose ability was not only to shape the future of Longwood Gardens, but continued to do so beyond his lifetime.
Summer of Spectacle Premiere Weekend is May 27 through May 29. Tickets go on sale April 3. On May 28 there will be a Fireworks and Fountains Show for ticket holders. Summer of Spectacle runs through Sept. 30 with summer concerts and six Fireworks and Fountains shows. For more information go to www.longwoodgardens.org.