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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

Our decision regarding the Prouty Garden landmark petition

May 1st, 2015  |  Posted by: Greg Galer

Photo courtesy of The Cultural Landscape Foundation

Photo courtesy of the Cultural Landscape Foundation

On Tuesday evening, the Boston Landmarks Commission ruled not to landmark the Prouty Garden, a well-loved healing garden belonging to Boston Children’s Hospital that has served as a restful place for sick children and their families since its construction in 1956. During this meeting, I shared that the Boston Preservation Alliance is not in support of the petition to landmark the Prouty Garden.

For two years, the real estate team at Boston Children’s Hospital – along with the Boston Landmarks Commission, the Alliance and other stakeholders – has grappled with this difficult dilemma. Many versions of an expansion were explored in an attempt to preserve the historic Wolbach Building and the Prouty Garden while allowing children’s to build its much-needed new clinical building. Ultimately, it was determined that none of these iterations would fully meet the needs of the patients, families and staff of the hospital, and that the only viable option was for the building to be constructed where the Wolbach Building and the Prouty Garden now stand.

This was not a decision made lightly or in haste. The debate surrounding the fate of the Prouty Garden reminds us all that preservation can be painful, messy and involves balancing competing needs. In this case, we understand that the Prouty Garden’s loss will be deeply felt by many families, children and staff members. Though the Prouty does have historic significance, we as preservationists must measure the loss of this historic resource against the loss or compromise of critical medical facilities. New green spaces at the hospital will never fully replace what is lost, but our hope is that future patients will also have access to the power of green spaces that the Prouty has so well demonstrated.

We will continue to have conversations with the hospital’s architect to ensure that the historic materials of the Wolbach and the statuary and plantings of the Prouty are incorporated into new building and green spaces. We look forward to working with Boston Children’s Hospital to design spaces that will one day be praised for embracing the healing qualities that can only be found in nature. Our hope is that the new healing gardens evolve to create their own legacies and emotional connections.

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3 Responses

  1. Eric says:

    It enhances the credibility of the Alliance when you participate in a difficult decision-making process and come to a conclusion (at least occasionally) that puts another priority ahead of preservation. Thanks for sharing this news.

  2. Charles Weinstein says:

    Thank you Greg for the support that you provided to the Hospital at the BLC meeting. As you well know, this has been a struggle for us, since we are ‘living’ with the unhappiness of both staff and visitors who have a deep affection for the preservation of the Garden. It was only after many years of study and an analysis of ALL the other options, that the Hospital came (reluctantly) to the conclusion that a new Inpatient building (with 150 beds) as an absolute necessity for the delivery of pediatric health care. WE are committed to working with staff, the Prouty family and other interested persons on the new greenspace which the BCCB project will provide, internally and externally for the patients and visitors. I also heard your personal plea to have us work with the families who feel a deep sense of loss around the Garden and we are making plans to do that during the remainder of the year, before the Garden will be removed.

  3. SFR says:

    What a crock of shit! This is about BCH getting a new building, rather than refurbishing existing buildings. The new building is NOT about saving lives – it’s about comfort and convenience. What a waste of a beautiful garden and a lovely old building. You people are BREAKING A PROMISE to not only a former donor to the hospital, but to the parents who entrusted their children’s ashes to the garden. May you all die horrifying and painful deaths for turning against what is morally and ethically correct.

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