A 2-part event series with Stephen F. Byrns President, Untermyer Gardens Conservancy
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
Stephen F. Byrns presents a webinar lecture, describing the creation and design of Untermyer Gardens in 1917 by Welles Bosworth for Samuel Untermyer, who desired that it be the “finest garden in the world.” Sprawling over 150 acres on the Hudson River in Yonkers, it was maintained by 60 gardeners and supplied by 60 greenhouses. The Walled Garden is the finest Persian garden in the Western Hemisphere, the Vista is the most monumental garden feature in America featuring 2 ancient Roman columns and the Temple of Love contains 5 waterfalls and 6 cascades. It is a garden of superlatives.
Owned by the City of Yonkers, the garden was in very poor condition and little known until the establishment of the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 by Stephen Byrns. Since then, 9 gardeners have been hired, 100,000 visitors came in 2021 and many features of the garden have been restored.
The lecture contains beautiful photos of the garden in its heyday, its descent into ruin and its rebirth. It also reviews the many historical accomplishments of Samuel and Minnie Untermyer.
In-Person Walking Tour
Saturday, May 14, 2022
Untermyer Park and Gardens, 945 N Broadway, Yonkers, NY 10701
This tour of the garden given by Stephen F. Byrns will introduce visitors to the history of the garden and its creator, Samuel Untermyer. Built in 1917, it was considered one of the finest gardens in America, sprawling over 150 acres, tended by 60 gardeners and supplied by 60 greenhouses. The design was inspired by garden traditions from throughout the world: Persia, India, Italy, Greece and England.
The tour lasts 90 minutes and involves considerable walking, including stairs and ramps. Only the Walled Garden is handicapped accessible.
Please note that space for the in-person tour is limited, and is allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.
About Stephen F. Byrns and the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy
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 7 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.
Its website is www.untermyergardens.org