Around New England

Arnold Arboretum Officials Plan Restoration of Five Gates

April 18, 2024

Harvard University is planning to restore five gates into Arnold Arboretum in order to improve their beauty and accessibility.

The gates have deteriorated since the 281-acre botanical public park in the Jamaica Plain and Roslindale neighborhoods of Boston opened in 1872, said Danny Schissler, a Harvard employee and head of operations and project management of the Arboretum.

Schissler showed photos and drawings to the Boston Public Improvement Commission last week.

“So as you can see the condition of most of these entrances:  They are just not as grand and as welcoming as they used to be when they were designed as carriage roads 150 years ago,” Schissler said during the commission’s meeting Thursday, April 11.

The park is mostly on land owned by the city of Boston, but Harvard University administers it under a long-term agreement with the city.

Arnold Arboretum was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), the most celebrated landscape architect of the 19th century, who designed Boston’s Emerald Necklace, a connecting tissue of green space around Boston that includes the Arboretum.

“I just want to assure everyone we are looking back into the Arboretum’s history to make sure that we are honoring Olmsted’s vision in creating the Arboretum and laying it out,” Schissler said (at 36:52 of the video of the meeting).

The gates were designed by Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886), Boston’s most celebrated architect of the 19thcentury, who designed Trinity Church in the city’s Back Bay.

Harvard is using donations to pay for the construction projects. Work on Poplar Gate, which already has funding, is scheduled to start in August 2024 and finish in the spring of 2025, Schissler said.

Harvard officials are raising money to restore Walter Street Gate and Washington Street Gate, Schissler said.

Discussion of the project began at 36:07 of the video of the commission meeting.

Arnold Arboretum is famous for its annual Lilac Sunday, which this year is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 12.


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