Prospect Park’s Concert Grove officially reopened today with a fresh look, after years of being fenced off from the public due to structural damage.
Representatives from the Prospect Park Alliance, the city’s Parks Department, and local elected officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the restored landmark on the park’s southeast corner. The pavilion space had been closed to the public since 2014 because of damage to the roof caused by water.
Fixing that damage required careful removing and reinstalling hundreds of turn-coated stainless steel shingles, Alden Maddry, the Alliance’s senior architect, told Bklyner.
“But underneath that, we put these very high-tech modern membranes, because the waterproofing that had been there failed,” Maddry told Bklyner. “Most of the money in the job went into that, but when you look underneath that you don’t see it. The most critical part is hidden.”
What visitors do see are recreated historical details, new lighting, new paint based on historic images, and a glimmering stained glass design in the pavilion’s roof.
The original colors of the painted wood ceilings and iron columns were matched through color testing and mockups, according to the Alliance, and the structure’s iron railings and roof finials were trucked to an foundry in Alabama specializing in historical restoration, where missing elements were recast and damaged pieces were repaired and restored.
“Prospect Park Alliance’s team of architects have been able to restore one of Brooklyn’s brightest jewels,” Sue Donoghue, the Alliance’s President and Park Administrator, “and we’re excited to welcome the community back to enjoy it.”
The $2 million restoration project was funded with capital dollars from 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 first announced in June 2015, and was initially expected to be completed by the end of 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic temporarily put a halt to the work.
The city’s Public Design Commission gave the Alliance an Award for Excellence in Design in 2018, Prospect Park Alliance for the restoration design.
The open air pavilion was originally built in 1874 by famed architect Calvert Vaux, who, along with his partner Frederick Law Olmsted, designed other park features like bridges, arches, and the historic Wellhouse.
The Concert Grove—which has at various points been called the Flower Garden Shelter, the Teahouse, and the Oriental Pavilion—features motifs from Hindu, Moorish, Chinese, and Egyptian architecture. The structure was previously restored in 1988, after it was almost completely destroyed by a fire in 1974.
The pavilion is now open to the public, and anyone can apply for a $25 permit to use the space for events like parties or weddings, subject to city and state pandemic restrictions.
Other attendees at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which included Council Members Brad Lander and Mathieu Eugene as well as Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Martin Maher, framed the opportunity to celebrate such events at the pavilion—or to simply sit under its shade to enjoy lunch—as part of a much-awaited reopening of the city after a difficult year.
“You can just feel this long dark tunnel of the pandemic year, we are going to make it to the other side,” Lander said. “We’ve got a lot of work we’ve got to do together to get there, but we have so much to celebrate and so many things to step into, and this is just a great example of that.”