Ordway Park Renewal

Ordway Park’s Beginnings

The Newton Conservators, a non-profit organization, has for decades worked successfully to preserve several hundred acres of open space in Newton. One of these open spaces, owned and maintained by the Conservators, is Ordway Park in Newton Centre, located at the corner of Grant Avenue and Everett Street.

Originally part of the woodland garden of the Ordway family home at 111 Gibbs Street, Ordway Park’s half-acre hillside was crossed by narrow winding paths and planted with a variety of trees and shrubs, many chosen for their attraction for birds and butterflies. From 1971, when it was left to the Newton Conservators in the will of Priscilla Ordway, the Park was maintained by volunteers. In 1997 the Directors of the Conservators hired a professional arborist to prune the trees and remove those that had become hazards. More recently a general plan for the maintenance of the Park has been adopted and a landscaper engaged to maintain simple paths and control the intrusion of maple saplings. The Conservators Board has formally asked the city to install a curbing to stop the erosion along Grant Avenue.

Park Improvements

As a result of neighborhood enthusiasm, several steps have been completed. A map identifying major trees in the Park has been created. Soil tests and a survey of current use of the Park have been completed. A landscape architect has provided an analysis of present conditions and guidelines for improvement of the Park, such as improved signage, entrance markers, possible benches, better delineation of the edges of the Park, and the introduction of understory flowering shrubs and native ground cover.

Vision for Ordway Park

This vision for the park was written in 1997 by a committee composed of Carol Corbett (chair), Doug Dickson, Bud Elliott, Judy Hepburn, and Norm Richardson

Ordway Park should be developed for a hybrid use based on the reclamation, to the extent possible, of the remaining original plants. Decisions concerning the selection of plants, either through thinning or replacement planning will be guided by the following criteria: 1) native or traditional plants consistent with the spirit of Priscilla Ordway’s original plan, 2) native trees not commonly seen in Newton, but which are well-suited to the space, and 3) plants that are attractive to birds.

The concept of the park shall envision two distinct “rooms” for development and use: 1) A dense shade and evergreen area fronting Grant Avenue and a more open area predominated by beech and hickory trees fronting Everett and Gibbs Streets. The character of each of these sections will be maintained in decisions about what plants to keep and plant.

Existing trees, plants and shrubs will be inventoried. Labeling for an outdoor classroom will be considered if the School Department expresses interest.

In addition to the major tree work, thinning of saplings, and reclamation of existing shrubs, additional attention will be focused on the berms and banks, for which a low-maintenance ground cover will be sought.

The committee will consult with abutters about: 1) possible removal of the large dead twin tulip tree which is on the adjoining property, and 2) the utility wires that cross Ordway Park to the abutters home.

The Conservator and Jackson Homestead archives should be combed to gather as background information about the original plan and intent of the park, which may be used in future planning for the park.

Please Help Insure Ordway Park’s Future:  The Ordway Park Fund

This bit of natural woodland is Newton’s only independent small neighborhood park. Its extensive array of trees and shrub species include American chestnut, American beech, dogwood, hemlock, hickory, maple, oak, pine, spruce, yellowwood, andromeda, azalea, box, euonymus, rhododendron, spirea, and yew. It is owned and maintained by the Newton Conservators.

The Board of Directors of the Conservators voted to establish an Ordway Park Fund in 2003 to permanently endow ongoing maintenance and improvement. The goal of the Ordway Park Fund is to create a fund of $50,000 in endowment, the interest from which will be used exclusively for the maintenance and improvement of Ordway Park.

Please consider making a donation to the Ordway Park Fund. The Fund can also offer a number of “naming opportunities” for non-endowment donations made specifically for improvements such as benches, birdbaths, entrance markers, and understory trees.

Donations may be made by check or online.

Checks should be made out to

The Newton Conservators (The Ordway Park Fund)

and mailed to

The Newton Conservators
PO Box 590011
Newton Centre, MA 02459

Follow this link to make an online donation.

The Newton Conservators is a registered non-profit organization and all donations to it as the administrator of the Ordway Park Fund are tax deductible.