Virtual Exploration of Untermyer Gardens, “America’s Greatest Forgotten Garden”
In 1916, New York City lawyer Samuel Untermyer tasked architect William Bosworth with designing the “finest garden in the world” on his cliffside estate in Yonkers, New York — he succeeded, and for 40 years, this 150-acre formal garden became a horticultural wonder of America, and the world. Though by the 1970s, one of America’s most beautiful green spaces had regressed into one of its most neglected, littered with abandoned buildings and crumbling ruins — any hints of its former greatness could only be found in local folklore.
While many restoration efforts throughout the years were unsuccessful, the latest initiative has finally bucked the trend, and given the once-great garden a second life — this is the story of America’s greatest forgotten garden.
Join New York Adventure Club for a virtual exploration of Untermyer Gardens, the formal gardens designed for Samuel Untermyer’s Greystone Estate in 1916, which became one of the most celebrated gardens in America.
Led by Stephen F. Byrns, President and Founder of the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy, which began restoring Samuel Untermyer’s gardens in 2011, our unique digital showcase of this cliffside Persian “paradise” garden will include:
- The story of Samuel Untermyer, the prominent New York lawyer and investor who purchased the Greystone Estate in an 1899 auction and transformed the grounds into one of the finest gardens in the world
- An overview of Untermyer Gardens, from the 1916 design by Beaux-Arts architect Welles Bosworth, to its heyday when 60 full-time gardeners were on staff, to the successful modern restoration efforts after decades of failed revival initiatives
- A virtual exploration of the stunning grounds including the Walled Garden‘s reflecting pools, mosaic pavements, and marble sphinxes; the Temple of Love‘s round temple on top of a rocky bluff and waterfall; and the jaw-dropping Vista, which features sweeping views of the Hudson River, framed by two 23-foot-tall Roman columns (believed to be the tallest ancient columns made from single stone chunks in the Western Hemisphere)
Afterward, we’ll have a Q&A with Steve — any and all questions about Untermyer Gardens are welcomed and encouraged!
Can’t make it live? Don’t worry, you’ll have access to the full replay for one week!
See you there, virtually! $10.
*Immediately upon registering, you will receive a separate, automated email containing the link to join this webinar
**For the best possible viewing experience, please ensure you’re using the latest version of your internet browser — Google Chrome is the most compatible. Exact technical requirements and a webinar user guide will be shared in the automated confirmation email upon registration.
***A full replay of the experience will be available to all registered guests for up to a week
Stephen F. Byrns founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 and is its president. A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Byrns was a founding partner of BKSK Architects, a successful architectural firm in New York City that was established in 1985.
Byrns was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve as a Landmarks Preservation Commissioner on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission from 2004-10. He served on the Board of Wave Hill from 2000-2010.
Byrns lived in Yonkers in the 1990’s, when he discovered Untermyer Park and Gardens. He revisited it in 2010 when told that the fountains had been turned on after decades of disuse. The more he learned about Samuel Untermyer’s garden, the more he was convinced that a conservancy should be established to work with the City of Yonkers to make it once again one of the greatest gardens in America.
A Board of Directors was established, and Marco Polo Stufano, the retired founding Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill, was engaged to be the Conservancy’s horticultural advisor. Sufficient funds were raised to hire Timothy Tilghman to be its first horticulturist in 2011 and there is currently a staff of 5 horticulturists at the garden. Byrns started full-time work at the Conservancy in early 2016.
Recognition of the Conservancy’s efforts has been swift and widespread, with significant coverage from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Elle Decor and other publications. National awards have been presented, including the Garden Club of America, Institute for Classical Architecture and Art, Foundation for Landscape Studies and the Victorian Society of America. The gardens are once again a showplace and are attracting people from near and far — case in point, it’s rated the #1 tourist attraction in Westchester County, according to TripAdvisor.
Its website is www.untermyergardens.org.
“I liked the knowledge of the architect who led the discussion. He conveyed information in a particularly cogent and efficient manner. His thoughts were well organized.” -Cheryl
“I liked getting to hear from expert, clearly see photographs, maps, etc.. – while I would love an in-person tour, this was a great introduction and gives me context for when I can visit in person” -Stephanie
“It was very well put together. Steve was great at speaking and presenting interesting info.” -Jen
“Steven’s deep and thorough history of Samuel Untermyer’s life/passions; the historical design influences (Persian, Mycenaean, Italian, Greek, etc.). Also liked the detailed coverage of specific garden beds and their different stages of development.” -Ashley
“Learned about a lovely NYC treasure and it’s history. Great to learn how it’s being restored by people who truly have talents and abilities to share this with NYC and the world.” -Susan
“I liked the history, photos, the map, before and after pictures. All good. The moderator was very knowledgeable which made it interesting. I want to visit now” -Susan
“Great mix of info about the garden itself and about the Untermeyers’ fascinating lives.” -Debbie
“So much information…biographical, historical, horticultural, design, very well presented.” -Carol
“Extremely informative!!! Learned new things. I lived next door all through my childhood and didn’t know the rich history. So wonderful!” -Janet
“Speaker was very knowledgeable and was able to tell history as well as current progress. Photos were wonderful” -Rachelle
“Great background information about Untermyre and terrific photos of before, during after. Great information about the architectural references.” -Gwyenne
“The speaker was well spoken, great pacing, the presentation was laid out very well and came alive very clearly” -Kathleen
“The research was impeccable! It was like a great mystery story and I couldn’t wait for the next part of the garden to be revealed!” -Corinne
“Unique topic presented by a real leader and practitioner. Learned so much in a short time.” -JoanBuy tickets/get more info now