The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park (FVCP) and the Van Cortlandt House Museum (VCHM) are pleased to share with you the recently finalized “Van Cortlandt House Museum Landscape Plan”. The Plan’s designs and presentation were created by Uziel Crescenzi, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park Intern and City College of New York Master of Landscape Architecture Student. The Project Coordinators were Christina Taylor, Executive Director of Friends of Van Cortlandt Park and Laura Carpenter Myers, Director of Van Cortlandt House Museum of The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York. We are thankful to the numerous people who served on the Advisory Committee of this plan (see page 26) and included representatives from The National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York, the Historic House Trust and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
In the spring of 2018, the Friends of Van Cortlandt Park received funding from the Paul and Klara Porzelt Foundation to partner with the Van Cortlandt House Museum to complete a Van Cortlandt House Museum Landscaping Project. With this funding, we worked together to develop this comprehensive plan to restore landscaping around Van Cortlandt House Museum to reflect the appearance of the grounds between 1897 when the museum opened to the public through 1917 and the advent of World War I; develop a survey to reflect those improvements; and carry out some initial projects with the highest potential to improve the profile of the location. When the Van Cortlandt House Museum was first opened to the public in 1897, the grounds were rather bare, with minimal plantings and no formal gardens. By June of 1903, a Colonial-Revival style garden was established below the house to the south featuring a central fountain surrounded by formal planting beds created to serve as a focal point for visitors to Van Cortlandt Park and the museum. This plan drew inspiration from this formal garden as well as previous early period landscape installations to help interpret the history of the Van Cortlandt House as a public museum and improve the visitor experience.
This plan is broken down into two phases to focus current and future restoration and fundraising efforts. Phase 1 contains projects that we plan to begin work on immediately and will complete as many of the projects as we can by June 2019 pending approvals and funding capabilities. FVCP has funding from the Porzelt Foundation to begin project implementation. FVCP was so excited to begin the work that we didn’t wait until the plan was finalized to start some of the projects. We have already completed several projects including replacing the wooden border around the garden beds, removing the fort that was being taken over by weeds and removing invasive trees and shrubs along the fence line. Phase 2 contains projects that will require further planning and additional funding before they can be implemented.
The Friends of Van Cortlandt Park look forward to working with the Van Cortlandt House Museum and the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of New York and others to complete the projects in this plan.