Group asks AG to save Prouty Garden

September 4, 2015
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LMA—The Friends of the Prouty Garden, a group dedicated to saving the green space at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH) campus, has hired a law firm and is asking the state Attorney General’s (AG) Office to stop the demolition of it.

Meanwhile, BCH is saying in a released statement that its plan to replace the garden with a clinical building has been approved after a lengthy public process, that the proposal will add 25 percent more green space and that the Olive Higgins Prouty Foundation supports the hospital’s decision.

The state AG’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

BCH plans to replace the Prouty Garden and the 55 Shattuck St. building with a new clinical building at the corner of Shattuck Street and Meadow Lane on its main campus.

The new space would include the creation of the Bader Garden, which would be an indoor/outdoor space next to the clinical building. A three-level, year-round garden would also be built as part of the project, along with a spiritual and meditation space on the top floor of the clinical building. A rooftop terrace for patients would be included with the project.

According to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society website, the garden was a gift from Olive Higgins Prouty, a local author, and opened in 1956. It is described as a “small pocket garden” and as a “quiet oasis” located behind BCH’s main building. The garden, designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape firm, is modeled after the terrace and garden at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

The Friends of the Prouty Garden had earlier this year petitioned the Boston Landmarks Commission to landmark the garden. That petition was rejected by a 7-1 vote. The group has now hired a law firm and is asking the state AG’s Office to stop the demolition, saying it goes against the terms of Prouty’s gift and her will.

“BCH plans to demolish the Prouty Garden in order to construct a new building. Based on our review of the evidence, we believe that this would be a violation of the terms of Mrs. Prouty’s gift,” attorneys Gregor McGregor and Michael O’Neill state in a letter to the AG’s Office.

The letter states that BCH has admitted that the terms of the gift were that the garden be “maintained in its present location in perpetuity” and that Prouty’s will left $150,000 to her foundation for the upkeep of the garden. The will did not give the foundation discretion to agree to the destruction of the garden, according to the letter.

The letter also notes that the AG’s Office is “responsible for ensuring that charitable funds are used in accordance with the donor’s wishes.”

BCH said in a statement released through spokesperson Rob Graham that the hospital has “great appreciation for what the Prouty Garden offers patients, families and our staff” and that is why its proposal will focus on open and green space to “support healing for everyone throughout our campus, year round.”

“Ultimately, the Longwood campus will have approximately 25 percent more green space than it does now. It will feature a quarter acre outdoor garden and a rooftop garden on our main building, green spaces on patient units for those who can’t go outside and winter gardens for year-round use,” said the statement.

The statement goes on to say that the proposal has been approved by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the Zoning Board of Appeals and the BLC since becoming under review in October 2012. The statement also says that the Prouty Foundation supports BCH’s decision. Graham attached a letter from the foundation.

The letter from W. Mason Smith III, grandson and president of the foundation, to BCH says that he has consulted with board members and that they support the decision by BCH.

“While we are persuaded and saddened that Children’s future clinical needs require that the Prouty Garden must go, we are very much in support of the hospital’s commitment to provide significant and diverse new garden spaces for patients, families and staff within the new and existing buildings,” wrote Smith.

The Friends of Prouty Garden will hold a rally Sept. 21 in front of BCH in support of the garden. For more information about the group, visit saveprouty.org.

 

 

 

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