Houghton Garden Reopened

Bridge in Houghton GardenAfter more than a year of work, Houghton Garden was officially reopened in October. Present to celebrate this milestone were Rep. Ruth Balser, who helped obtain state money for the project, Ald. Lisle Baker, a longtime advocate for rehabilitating the Garden, Ald. Brian Yates and Ald. Amy Sangiolo, Martha Horn, the city’s Environmental Planner who supervised the work, Helen Heyn, who helped acquire the property for the city many years ago, and Nancy Avery, who headed the project for the Chestnut Hill Garden Club.

“The Houghton Garden is an important historic and natural resource which has now been restored and made wheelchair accessible for all Newton citizens to enjoy,” said Alderman Baker.

Houghton Garden is a ten-acre woodland garden, originally constructed by Mr. and Mrs. Clement S. Houghton, who built their home nearby in 1906. The Garden is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is located on the edge of both a local and National Register Historic District. It is a “wild garden” in the English style, including winding paths, a lagoon like pond, and Mrs. Houghton’s 1919 alpine rock garden. The Garden, and the Webster Conservation Area, of which it is a part, is under the jurisdiction of the Newton Conservation Commission.

The City of Newton undertook the rehabilitation of the Garden using funds from the Department of Environmental Management and the Massachusetts Historical Commission. These funds were in turn matched by the City of Newton, including funds from a Community Development Block Grant, and donations by the Chestnut Hill Garden Club.

The rehabilitation work not only involved clearing and dredging to restore some of the original landscape design, which had been overgrown, but also restoration of steppingstone pathways and stairs, replacement of the foundation of the dam and a stone bridge, and planting several new birch trees. It also involved new fencing, as well as the creation of a wheelchair accessible entrance and two pathways leading to viewing areas from which the rock garden and water feature may be seen. The Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities also reviewed the project and concurred that it will provide an experience in the city unlike the other areas available to the disabled.

To assure ongoing care of the Garden, a new nonprofit organization, The Friends of Houghton Garden, has been formed. The organization is committed to the restoration and historic preservation of the Houghton Garden’s natural resources for the enjoyment of generations to come. Interested citizens can contribute time or donations by contacting Friends of Houghton Garden, c/o Michele Hanss,  m.hanss@comcast.net or writing to The Friends of Houghton Garden at P.O. Box 67155, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467. The Chestnut Hill Garden Club has also pledged its continued support to help with maintenance, plantings and other activity, as has the Newton Conservation Commission.

Adapted from a press release provided by Ald. Lisle Baker