I was working in midtown Manhattan at the time, and I found myself frequently drawn to spend time in Paley Park. I’d find an excuse to walk via 53rd Street to a meeting or lunch or the subway, and I would wander into the park, pull up a chair, and tune out the bustling city. It was like taking a very deep breath and letting it all the way out.
I still visit Paley Park whenever possible, as it has been an inspiration for Theodora Park.
Like Paley Park, Theodora Park seeks to be a place of beauty and repose. And it aspires to encourage others to preserve and enhance green spaces in their neighborhoods. Importantly, it honors my mother.
My mother was a gracious and caring person. She spent much of her adult life helping other people, particularly through her volunteer work at the local hospital in Connecticut. She was modest about that work, as she was modest about all things, including her skills in gardening.
Seemingly by magic, her garden produced flowers that followed the seasons. Oh, the joy of seeing those first crocuses after the harsh winter months. Then the hyacinths, daffodils, forsythia, tulips, lilies of the valley, wisteria, roses, iris, peonies, dahlias, zinnias…the peas, carrots, lettuce, radishes, beans, tomatoes, gooseberries…I can see, smell and taste them even now.
My mother loved water, too. There were three small ponds in her garden. She populated them with goldfish, who somehow usually survived even brutal New England winters. In summer, there were water lilies, spectacularly white against their dark green leaves.
Paul Heroux’s pool provides Theodora Park with art and water. How perfect! I know that my mother would respond to the radiant beauty of Paul’s tiles, as well as their references to life forms from nature.
Philip Simmons’s gate is a work of art too. Designed and forged by Mr. Simmons himself, it is graceful and elegant enough to be the gate to heaven. And it connects Theodora Park with other Philip Simmons ironwork in Ansonborough, including the fence surrounding St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church, diagonally across the street.