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At Bartram's, Philly's only 19th century flower garden blooms again

Ann Bartram Carr Garden

Ann Bartram Carr Garden

Mayor Kenney helps open the Ann Bartram Carr Garden

Ann Bartram Carr Garden

In March, we looked in on the reopening of Bartram House after a $2.7 million renovation project that included vital exterior rehabbing and the construction of 12 geothermal wells. Then on July 14, Mayor Jim Kenney, Senator Anthony Williams, Bartram’s Garden Executive Director Maitreyi Roy and other leaders formally celebrated the restoration of the Ann Bartram Carr Garden, an important 19th century horticultural landmark. (Bartram’s Garden is in our current On the Ground neighborhood.)
Developed and maintained on the west side of the house by John Bartram’s granddaughter Ann Bartram Carr (1779-1858), the garden featured ten greenhouses, 1,400 native plant species and about 1,000 exotic plants. Building on the Bartram family legacy of horticultural art, collections and writings -- as well as a world-wide trade in seeds and plants -- the enterprise started in 1810 and continued until the property’s sale in 1850.
Buyer Andrew Eastwick preserved the property until the City of Philadelphia took over the historic site. Stewardship of the house and grounds continues to this day in partnership with the John Bartram Association, formed in 1893.
Now Carr’s restored 19th-century flower garden is open to the public. Bartram's hosts about 50,000 visitors per year, and the upcoming Bartram’s Mile trail will boost those numbers.
"This is what it feels like to steward a legacy," said Bartram's President Elizabeth Stressi-Stoppe of combing through the site’s photographic, archival and architectural history and bringing the garden back to life. "We wanted to get it right."
"Ann remains as important today as she did in her time," added Roy.
The renovation of recreation centers and gardens is "essential for investment in our neighborhoods and communities," said Mayor Kenney, calling the new Bartram’s Philly’s "living room." He pointed to the fact that all state and city funding for the project came thanks to taxpayers putting their dollars into community green space.
"I’m proud to be a Philadelphian today," he enthused.
Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell praised the site as a burgeoning destination not only for Philadelphians, but for travelers from across the country. Bressi-Stoppe called it a "nexus" for the cultural, physical and programmatic improvements happening all along the Schuylkill River.
Senator Williams touted the "vision, commitment and tenacity" of the Bartram’s board, staff and partners, and called his support for its funding "a simple responsibility," especially since his own father grew up nearby. He also pointed to the Bartram family’s Quaker legacy of peace, understanding and humanity.
"It’s much bigger than a garden to me," he continued. "Today is a statement. For all the violence, this is a place of peace."
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Ann Bartram Carr Garden speakers

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