NEW YORK TIMES
August 10, 2003
A British Garden for the Financial District
By NADINE BROZAN
Hanover Square, a brick-paved triangular park in the financial district, is to be transformed into an oasis of greenery under plans formulated to honor the bonds of amity between the city and Britain. To be known as the British Memorial Garden, the project would also memorialize the 67 Britons lost in the World Trade Center attack and the British subjects who died alongside Americans in various wars.
"After the events of 9/ll, many of us in the British community here, alone without our families, decided that we had gotten through this because of New York itself," said Camilla G. Hellman, president of the British Memorial Garden. "I went to the board of St. George's Society and said I would like to explore the idea of giving the city a garden, a truly British garden." The society, a philanthropic organization founded here in 1770, will serve on the trust established to oversee planning and preservation of the garden.
Ms. Hellman also went to the Department of Parks and Recreation, which owns the site, where William T. Castro, the department's commissioner for Manhattan, suggested she scout possible locales. "When we walked into Hanover Square, it felt so right," she said. Her organization is now raising $3.5 million to build and endow the garden.
Once the location was secured, juried competitions were organized to select both the landscape designer and the sculptor of a piece to be installed there. Twenty landscape architects were asked to submit plans, with Julian and Isabel Bannerman, who have designed gardens for the Prince of Wales and Andrew Lloyd Webber, emerging the winner. "Normally, we don't enter competitions, but we thought this was rather special so we broke our golden rule,' Mr. Bannerman said from London.
"We tried to pick timeless elements," he said, explaining the choice of yew trees. "They are always in English churchyards and are perhaps the oldest trees in Britain, living up to 1,000 years." The yews will be trimmed into abstract topiary shapes.
Flowers are to be planted from seeds taken from 16th-century garden of Henry VIII and the 17th-century garden of William III at Hampton Court Palace. Some of those seeds have already gone to the Bronx. "They're not good for more than a year, so we have sown some of them in the nursery at Van Cortlandt Park, where they will be propagated," said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner.
The seating, curved stone benches, is to be placed over and in front of plantings of box bushes. A ribbon of stones is to be threaded through the garden into which the names of all the counties in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are to be carved. There is to be a rose in the iron fence for each of the 67 Britons who died in the World Trade Center.
The winning design for the sculpture is to be announced on Oct. 1. The sculpture now in the square, a statue of Abraham De Peyster, mayor of the city from 1692 to 1694, is to be moved to a destination that has not yet been determined and that requires approval of the city's Art Commission, Mr. Benepe said.
Garden construction, contingent on Arts Commission review, is to begin next spring; planners hope for completion by summer.
Last edited by Kris; August 23rd, 2010 at 03:59 PM.
This is truly lovely, both in spirit and execution.
What am improvement. *Excellent. This will be another one of those treasured little NYC gems. *Gotta love the Brits and their love for NYC, too.
Can't wait to relax here when it's done.
A ticker-tape parade of landscaping!
(Edited by Jasonik at 8:35 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)
Is this the one by 10 Liberty?
No, its more toward the lower eastern side of downtown closer to Water St.
wow, the plan looks very nice.
what does the square currently look like?
(Edited by AJphx at 8:33 pm on Aug. 11, 2003)
There are photos on the website.
I ran through it yesterday, it is really pretty small - smaller than that rendering makes it look. It's not like it's in great need of a makeover either, though it's nothing special. The park has lots of small green trees, a nice statue, and benches, but it will certainly be better as the British Memorial Garden.
Although I am Canadian-born most of my father's family live in the NorthEast US and my mother is British ( a WWII war-bride) and I find this idea of a memorial park in NYC touching and inspiring. *It IS important to establish places where future generations can "find" their histories. *The plan on paper looks very nice, indeed and reminds me a little of Prince Charle's garden @ Highgrove.
August 22, 2003
On a Pedestal, but Homeless
By NADINE BROZAN
A statue of Abraham de Peyster with boots in Lower Manhattan.
Pity Abraham de Peyster, mayor of New York City from 1692 to 1694, acting governor of the colony of New York in 1701, wealthy merchant and philanthropist. He or rather his bronze likeness cannot seem to find a permanent home.
His sculpture has had two homes in the city and will soon be looking for a third, since the park where he sits is scheduled for a de Peysterless renovation.
Meanwhile, his bronze twin has already had two homes at a Pennsylvania college and may be moved again.
His fate hardly befits a benevolent, if now totally obscure, city father. In a 1902 book, "Famous Families of New York," Margherita Arlina Hamm described Abraham de Peyster as "public-spirited and patriotic." He donated land to the city for an early City Hall and often paid the debts of schools that had run out of funds.
"To him belongs the credit of having induced the city to assume the support of the poor," Mrs. Hamm wrote. "Whenever the government got into financial trouble, he advanced it the money necessary to conduct its business."
Good deeds notwithstanding, the city plans to oust Abraham de Peyster from Hanover Square in Lower Manhattan to make way for a memorial garden to honor British subjects who died in the destruction of the World Trade Center and in wars in which they fought alongside Americans. And, at the moment, the city is not quite sure where it will put him, said Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner.
Abraham de Peyster's descendants are hoping that he will remain somewhere in Lower Manhattan, because, said one, James de Peyster Jr., "that was all there was in his day."
"We would like to have him where we could visit him," he said. "We missed him during the years from 1972 to 1976 when he was in storage on Randalls Island."
But John Watts de Peyster, a great-great-great-grandson of the mayor, might not have been so sanguine about this move. He was the one who commissioned the sculpture in 1894 from George Edwin Bissell and gave it to the city, which at first wanted to place it in Battery Park. This idea was not universally embraced.
"The selection of the site was irregular and the work of excavation was begun in advance of due authorization," said an editorial in The New York Times published on June 15, 1895. "Better fill up the hole and find another place for de Peyster."
That other place turned out to be Bowling Green, where he remained until 1972, when he was ejected for park and subway renovations. Four years later, he was moved to a new home in Hanover Square, where he has sat high on his pedestal ever since.
Meanwhile, there is another Mayor de Peyster at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., more a fraternal twin than an identical one. Yes, the statues were designed by the same sculptor and share the same seated pose, the same pensive facial expressions. But the two statues were cast in different foundries. The New York de Peyster is wearing knee-high boots. The campus de Peyster shows off his stockinged legs.
According to a report in The Times on Aug. 5, 1897, John Watts de Peyster had political differences with city officials and offered to give the sculpture to Franklin & Marshall. Several years later, he apparently had a change of heart and commissioned another Bissell sculpture.
But Abraham H. Rothermel, a member of the Franklin & Marshall class of 1887 and a lifelong friend of John Watts de Peyster's, put the blame not on political officials but on the news media. In a 1949 letter to the president of the college, he wrote, "Several of the yellow sheet newspapers in New York that had no respect for the old aristocracy made disparaging remarks about the pioneer fathers and were far from complimentary.
"This was more than he could stand," he wrote of John Watts de Peyster. "He was ever a man of action. He offered the statue to Franklin & Marshall College."
How Abraham de Peyster came to a place of honor at a college that was not established until 59 years after his death in 1728, and one that has never had a de Peyster as a student, remains an enigma.
According to Sally F. Griffith, a college historian, "John Watts de Peyster was a rather eccentric, wealthy old New Yorker who liked to give money to obscure places in memory of his family and to write about historical subjects."
One of the school's literary organizations, the Diagnothian Society, made him an honorary member. As a result, he began corresponding with the secretary of the society, Mr. Rothermel. "He was editor of a monthly literary magazine called The College Student, and he published de Peyster's historical essays," Dr. Griffith said.
John Watts de Peyster gave the college several valuable collections of books. So no surprise Franklin & Marshall began to court him as a prospective benefactor, Dr. Griffith said, awarding him three honorary degrees.
"In 1896, Rothermel, who was by then a lawyer, was tapped to suggest the college's need for a library to his friend," she said.
John Watts de Peyster agreed to fund it, but, mysteriously, only if William McKinley won the presidential election that year. He did, and Mr. de Peyster donated $25,000, commissioned an architect to design the library and stipulated that it be named the Watts de Peyster Library in honor of his father and grandfather.
"So when the statue was offered," Dr. Griffith said, "the school felt obligated to put it in front of the library." But, like its counterpart in New York, it was destined to be uprooted.
By the 1930's, the college had outgrown the library and its Romanesque architecture was deemed incongruous with the Georgian style dominating the campus, so it was torn down. Its replacement was named for a new benefactor, Benjamin Franklin Fackenthal Jr.
"The statue was superfluous, so it was moved away from the center of campus to an area adjoining a public park," Dr. Griffith said. "It had little symbolic value and students would vandalize it by painting it."
She continued: "In the mid-1940's when Rothermel was a trustee, he became incensed at the lack of respect and wanted to return the statue to a central location. But the college didn't go along because it didn't fit with the architecture."
So is the campus de Peyster the original de Peyster?
There is nothing in New York City records that reflects either a loss of the work or the fact that it was remade. "The history and provenance of artwork is always the subject of debate," said Mr. Benepe, the parks commissioner, who added that the city's early records of the work say nothing about a copy. But Mr. Benepe said it was "a mystery worth investigating and resolving."
In addition, he said, if it is a copy, that would not diminish its worth. "The value of a city sculpture is impossible to set because we would never sell it," Mr. Benepe said. "Besides, it is nice to know there is a New Yorker prominently displayed in Pennsylvania."
Deborah Bershad, executive director of the City Art Commission, which will have final approval over the ultimate site chosen by the Parks Department for the sculpture, agreed. "Based on our information, it seems like what we have is the original," she said.
Reached by phone last week, four descendants of Abraham de Peyster James A. de Peyster Sr., James A. de Peyster Jr., Ashton de Peyster and James de Peyster Todd said they did not know about the Pennsylvania bronze and the connection to Franklin & Marshall.
"We were not aware that there was a second sculpture or about the brouhaha that caused it to happen," Mr. de Peyster Todd said. "We did know that Abraham was very public-spirited, as was our family for generations."
In fact, Abraham de Peyster may soon emerge from obscurity, at least at Franklin & Marshall.
"We have just finished a campus master plan," said John Fry, the college's president. "Looking at the siting of buildings and public art, we discovered this wonderful sculpture sitting on Buchanan Avenue at the edge of the campus. We did a little work and discovered he was a famous part of campus history, so we have decided to return him to a prominent place on campus. It is an overdue gesture."
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company
Swig Burris Adds Another Downtown Property to its Portfolio
By Barbara Jarvie - GlobeSt.com
Last updated: Aug 28, 2003 *09:24AM
NEW YORK CITY- Adding another Lower Manhattan property to its roster, Swig Burris Equities has purchased the 25-story 318,600-sf 5 Hanover Square. A purchase price was not disclosed; current rents in the property are in the low $30s per sf for the upper floors and in the mid to upper $20s for the lower levels.
The acquisition and renovation of 5 Hanover Square is another example of the confidence we have in Lower Manhattan as the area rebuilds and plans are formulated for the World Trade Center site, explains Kent M. Swig, principal of Swig Burris Equities.
Acquisition financing for the purchase was provided by Santa Monica, CA-based Fremont Investment and Loan, which was arranged by Cooper Horowitz. A mezzanine loan was provided by Longview and was arranged by Jonathan Estreich, who also serves as a principal of Longview. Swig Burris was represented by Rob Sorin, Joelle Halprin, Randall Rothschild and Bill Stempel of Fried Frank Harris Shriver and Jacobson, while the seller was represented by Jeffrey Randall Karp, a private practitioner.
Building upon its renovation and leasing of 48 Wall St., Swig Burris plans to transform 5 Hanover Square into a luxury boutique office building. Renovations will include new elevator cabs, new core bathrooms, new multi-tenant floor upgrades and the installation of a state-of-the-art security and fire/life safety systems. The renovations will also include a lobby Swig is billing as "one of the finest in Manhattan." Also, the entire two-story facade front will be replaced with a new all-glass one.
A spokesperson for Swig Burris says the company expects current tenants including Unisys Corp., Reliance Insurance Co. and Jordan and Jordan Inc. to remain during the renovation process.
Hanover Square Park, the open space in front of the building, will also undergo a full renovation, including upgraded sidewalks, new landscaping, and the installation of a rotating art sculpture program. It will be renamed the British Memorial Gardens at Hanover Square, commemorating the 67 Britons who died on Sept. 11 as well as those British subjects who died alongside Americans in various wars. The gardens will be renovated by The British Memorial Gardens Fund.
Swig Burris Equities LLC is a real estate development, investment and management firm based here with offices in San Francisco. Over the past few years, Swig Burris Equities has purchased and is in the process of developing in excess of $350 million of properties, which includes, the purchase and renovation of 48 Wall St., a 324,000-sf office building, and the purchases of 770 Lexington Ave., a 20-story, 155,000 sf commercial office building, and 112 residential units within Gracie Townhouse, located at 401 East 89th St., among others.
Kapoor to create 9/11 memorial
Sculptor Anish Kapoor is to create a memorial in New York to the British victims of the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centre.
The 19.5ft (6m) sculpture, Unity, will form the centrepiece of a memorial garden in Hanover Square, near the twin towers site.
Remembrance ceremonies will be held in the garden.
Sixty-seven Britons died in the attacks, the biggest loss of British life in a terrorist attack.
The sculpture will be crafted from a block of black granite into which a vertical chamber is carved of approximately 1m [3.3ft] by 2.5m [8.2ft] by 80cm [2.6ft].
"The inner chamber is polished to give a mirrored surface," said the Bombay-born artist.
"The chamber reflects light so as to form a column, which hovers, ghost-like, in the void of the stone.
"This very physically monolithic object then appears to create within itself an ephemeral reflection akin to an eternal flame."
Kapoor's success against 11 other artists who submitted designs, including Sir Anthony Caro, Julian Opie, Antony Gormley and Richard Deacon, was announced by the British Memorial Garden Trust in New York.
Prince Charles and the British Consulate in New York are patrons of the charity.
Kapoor, 50, moved to London in the 1970s to study art at Hornsey College and the Chelsea School of Art Design.
He won the Turner Prize in 1991, and was made a CBE last year.