The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park are happy to announce that our June 2014 Friend of the Month is Laura Carpenter Myers, the Director of the Van Cortlandt House Museum. The Friends’ are lucky to have been working with Laura for almost 20 years now (close to our entire existence). Laura has always been a great supporter of the Friends by letting us use her grounds for programs such as teacher workshops and our Seven Wonders events. Over the years, we have partnered with her and the Museum on several events and activities. In addition, she has been a personal supporter of our organization too. We are excited to be working with Laura and everyone at the Museum to co-host for the second time a mutual benefit on Tuesday July 15th- the evening of the Philharmonic concert in the Park. If you haven’t checked out the Van Cortlandt House Museum yet, we highly recommend you stop in for a visit and make sure to say Hello! to our good friend- Laura Carpenter Myers.
How and when did you get involved with the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park?
I became aware of the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park in September of 1994 when I began work as Director of Van Cortlandt House Museum. I can’t say precisely when I began working with them which means it’s been a good relationship. My involvement has mostly been through my work but I also have recently begun making donations to the annual Hike-a-Thon.
What is your favorite place in the Park?
On a bench under one of the Linden trees on the museum grounds. There are 3 trees left of what was once an alley of trees lining the Van Cortlandt’s carriage road in from Broadway. I like to sit there, either looking out to the Parade Ground or back toward the house, and think about all the history that these trees have seen.
What is your favorite memory of the Park or event you have participated in?
Wow, after nearly 20 years in the park it would be hard to choose just one. I did really enjoy the day that The Rolling Stones landed their blimp out on the Parade Ground as a stunt for their upcoming concert tour. It happened to coincide with one of my board meetings so somewhere I have a photograph of my board out on the lawn with the Rolling Stones’ blimp in the background. Another favorite was when the Metropolitan Opera still presented opera in the Park. The final year in Van Cortlandt Park they performed Madam Butterfly. The stage tent was set up on the Parade Ground with Vault Hill as a backdrop. Near the end of the opera, as Madam Butterfly is on stage dying, a full moon was rising up over Vault Hill, it was chilling.
Parks is currently working on a Master Plan for the Park, what improvements would you like to see in Van Cortlandt Park in the next 20 years?
Selfishly, I would like to see improved signage and landscaping for Van Cortlandt House Museum. Visitors to the Museum now enter through the “back door” and often miss the beautiful view of the façade and the experience of walking up to the front door as a proper guest. For the park itself, I am looking forward to improved signage, especially for way-finding. Visitors to the museum who drive have to park along Broadway or in the Golf House parking lot. Getting to the museum on foot, especially from the Golf House, isn’t always clear. Also, I feel that reconnecting the park from east to west is also a priority so that park-goers can access all areas of the park safely.