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Memorial Garden Honors Deceased Alumni in Unique and Historic Space

 

1918When E. Clarence Jones installed an elaborate circular garden behind his North Broadway estate in Saratoga Springs in 1918, he couldn't have imagined that, some eighty-five years later, it would be transformed into a memorial for generations of Skidmore alumni. After passing through several owners, Jones's Broadview Lodge was acquired by Skidmore College in 1967 and is now known as the Surrey Williamson Inn. The property's original ";East View" garden has been renovated as the college's Alumni Memorial Garden.

The project originated in 2002 when Florence Andresen '57, Barbara Mansfield Saul '57, Elizabeth Hartz Hewitt '57, and Marge O'Meara Storrs '57 decided to restore the long-neglected garden and hold a private ceremony there for deceased classmates during their forty-fifth reunion. As the balloons released in honor of lost classmates floated above circular beds bursting with the 650 impatiens they had planted, the four alumnae realized they were on to something. Soon graduates from other classes expressed interest in collaborating on a garden enhanced by sculpture, seating, and signage that would offer all alumni classes a range of memorial opportunities.

gardenThere will be more than just trees, shrubbery, flowers, and small plaques available to honor deceased classmates. A stone-paved walkway encircles the 6,000-square-foot garden and divides it into four quadrants; starting with 1903 and continuing through 2004, each class will be represented by an engraved stone brick. A large descriptive plaque will adorn the garden's east wall, and donated works by alumni artists and artisans will include planters by ceramist Jill Fishon-Kovachik '81 that will be burnished with a cycle-of-life motif by Skidmore faculty artist Leslie Ferst '76, as well as custom teakwood benches built by Munder-Skiles, the firm of exterior designer John Danzer '75. ";We feel that this garden will provide an intimate setting for individuals and groups wishing to remember deceased classmates, faculty, and friends of the college," says Andresen. ";And it will be available to any Skidmore graduate at any time during the year, rather than solely during a reunion weekend."

Work began on the site in September 2003, when the soil was prepared for an initial planting of several Cusa dogwood trees; white-, pink-, and red-flowering azalea bushes; and purple-leaf ground cover.  There was a complete restoration of the four quadrants and circular granite wall surrounding the sunken garden, as well as curation of garden furniture, sculpture and ceramic vessels donated by renown Skidmore alumni artists. A watering system and lighting was installed in 2004. Formal dedication of the Alumni Memorial Garden took place in June 2005.
For more information on the memorial garden project, call Mary Solomons, director of donor relations, at 1 (800) 584-0115, ext. 5619, or e-mail her at msolomon@skidmore.edu.

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