The Garden Club of America joined the Unite campaign in October. Since then, its 200 clubs and 18,000+ members from across the country have added countless signatures to the online petition and helped to raise awareness of the plan to destroy the viewing garden at the Frick, designed by British landscape architect Russell Page.
Of the GCA’s chartered clubs, the Garden Club of Twenty is one of its oldest, established in 1912. It has a special connection to the Frick: Martha Frick Symington, granddaughter of Collection founder Henry Clay Frick, was “instrumental in [the East 70th Street] garden’s creation,” as the Garden Club of Twenty writes in their recent letter to the Frick’s Chair and Executive Director. The Club states: “[we] would like to see the Garden preserved permanently as promised in 1973.”
See below to read the full letter from the Garden Club of Twenty.
November 9, 2014
Margot Bogert, Chair of the Board of Trustees,
Ian Wardropper, Executive Director
The Frick Collection
1 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021
Dear Ms. Bogert & Mr. Wardropper:
As President of the Garden Club of Twenty, not only do I support the Garden Club of America’s position in opposition to the destruction of the Russell Page Garden, but represent our club members’ opposition as well. Garden Club of Twenty member, Martha Frick Symington was instrumental in this garden’s creation and our club would like to see the Garden preserved permanently as promised in 1973. I am writing to voice my strong opposition to the expansion plan currently proposed by the Frick, which would destroy essential elements of the museum ensemble—the Russell Page Viewing Garden, an important work of art, and the complementary light-filled Reception Hall Pavilion—and irreparably damage the unique sense of intimacy that is a hallmark of the Frick experience.
The proposed 106ft tower runs counter to founder Henry Clay Frick’s intent that the collection maintain the scale of a private home. Furthermore, this residential scale is central to the collection’s City, State and National-landmark designations. Once compromised, the important feel of a private home will be destroyed.
In your role as stewards of this landmarked cultural treasure, I urge you to withdraw this proposal and seek more thoughtful alternatives to achieving your goals that will preserve the collection’s most distinguishing architectural and landscape attributes into the future. The open space of the garden will only become a more and more valued and treasured piece of the Frick’s legacy as New York City moves into the future.
Nancy M. Roberts
Garden Club of Twenty