Historic Concert Grove Pavilion to Reopen After Restoration Later This Year

Details of the pre-restoration Concert Grove Pavilion. Photo by C. Paul Martinka, courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance

PROSPECT PARK  –The historic Concert Grove Pavilion in Prospect Park will be undergoing a renovation, Prospect Park Alliance announced on Monday, and should be restored to its former glory within the year.

Prospect Park Alliance, the nonprofit that works to sustain and restore Prospect Park and is responsible for spearheading the project, kicked off the restoration on Monday along with council members Laurie Cumbo, Brad Lander, and other members of the community. The restoration was made possible by $2 million in capital funding from the city budget by former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the Brooklyn Delegation of the New York City Council. The funding for the restoration was announced in June 2015.

The Pavilion, which was built in 1874 by English architect Calvert Vaux, is an open-air bandstand that has been a fixture of park-goers’ lives for over 150 years. Boasting motifs from Hindu, Moorish, Chinese, and Egyptian architecture, the pavilion is embedded in the park’s history — it was completed around the same time as the park itself. It received another, earlier restoration in 1988, after it was almost completely destroyed by fire in 1974.

The pavilion sustained structural and water damage over the years due to design flaws in the 1988 restoration and was closed for use in 2014.  The new restoration will repair water damage, reconstruct missing historical details, and repaint the structure based on historic images.

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Details of the pre-restoration Concert Grove Pavilion. Photo by C. Paul Martinka, courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance

Lucy Gardner, Senior Marketing and Communications Manager for Prospect Park Alliance, believes that the restoration is especially momentous because of how beloved the Pavilion has been to the community.

“A pavilion is sort of a funny thing,” Gardner said in a call with Bklyner. “It has so many uses, so you have generations of people who remember picnicking under there, having birthday parties under there, meeting their friends under there. So we’re very excited to restore it — not only because it’s such a gem, and it has so much historical and architectural significance — but also because we’re so excited to return it to community use.”

Anyone will be able to apply for a $25 permit to use the space for whatever event they please, like a party or wedding, Gardner said, “People really love those types of spaces in the park.” The Alliance is excited to have another space like this open to the public. The Classical Greek-inspired Peristyle building on Parkside Avenue, across from the Parade Grounds, is a similar covered structure that received landmark status in 1968, according to Brownstoner.

“The Concert Grove Pavilion deserves a thorough restoration to restore it to its original grandeur, and thanks to funding from the Brooklyn Delegation, we’re excited to be doing just that,” said President of the Prospect Park Alliance and Park Administrator, Sue Donoghue.

New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo, Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue, Council Member Brad Lander, and Minister John Williams at the kickoff event. Photo by C. Paul Martinka, courtesy of Prospect Park Alliance.

Situated in the Upper Concert Grove in the park’s southeast corner, adjacent to Lakeside, the pavilion’s design features cast-iron columns and a decorative metal-and-wood roof with a stained-glass skylight. It was formerly called the “Oriental Pavilion,” a name that has been changed due to political incorrectness.

Calvert Vaux, the architect, was responsible for some of the most famous structures in New York City, including the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Along with his partner Frederick Law Olmsted, Vaux provided the park with other iconic features like bridges, arches, and the Wellhouse, another of the park’s oldest structures.

Prospect Park Alliance received an Award for Excellence in Design in 2018 from the New York City Public Design Commission for the restoration design of the Pavilion by the Alliance’s Capital Projects team, which includes architects, landscape architects, construction supervisors, and an archivist. The project is estimated to conclude at the end of 2020.

“The restoration of the Concert Grove Pavilion is a step forward towards a more equitable Brooklyn,” said Council Member Cumbo in a press release from Prospect Park Alliance. “We want to make sure that no borough or neighborhood is forgotten when it comes to the restoration of our parks.”

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Rachel Lindy Baron

Rachel is a freelance writer and recent Brooklyn transplant who is a bit obsessed with food.

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