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Fall 2003

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Memorial garden hosts perennial tributes

When 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 is currently under development as the college’s Alumni Memorial Garden.
A 1918 view of the area now being restored as Skidmore’s Alumni Memorial Garden, behind the Surrey.
     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.
     There 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 mid-September, 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. A watering system and lighting will follow. Formal dedication of the Alumni Memorial Garden is slated for fall 2004.
     For more information on the memorial garden project, call Mary Solomons, director of donor relations, at 800-584-0115, ext. 5619, or e-mail her at msolomon@skidmore.edu. —MM

 


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