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GCA Grant Helps Restore an Historic Park


October 26, 2021

Downing Park, Newburgh, New York

In 2018, a tornado wreaked havoc on a thirty-five acre park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and partner, Calvert Vaux in Newburgh, New York. In an effort to restore this historic landscape, the Garden Club of America (GCA) has awarded a $10,000 Restoration Initiative grant to the Garden Club of Orange and Dutchess Counties (GCODC).

The $10,000 grant will allow the club to replace two significant trees that were lost to the tornado. GCODC also plans to hire an arborist to address other damaged trees, remove diseased hemlocks, and replant appropriately, keeping in mind the original nineteenth-century planting list while also focusing on sustainability. The club will also help renovate stonework for an amphitheatre.

The park is named for Newburgh native Andrew Jackson Downing, designer, horticulturist, author, and pioneer in advocacy for common green spaces. Downing was considered a mentor by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and it was this thought that the team took on what would be their final collaboration. Many of the features bear a resemblance to the pair's design of New York’s Central Park, although on a different scale.

Through this restoration, the club will help renew an Olmstedian vision for public green spaces, fitting for the 2022 bicentennial celebration of Olmsted’s birth. The GCA is a proud founding partner of the Olmsted 200 bicentennial campaign.

The GCA established the Restoration Initiative in 2017 in response to the urgent needs caused by catastrophic storms, hurricanes, floods, fires, and mudslides to assist member clubs involved in public landscape restoration and conservation projects. Thirteen grants, totalling $130,000 have been awarded to clubs in California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.


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