The Friends of Farlow Park invite all of our neighbors in Newton to visit Farlow Park and join our efforts towards restoring the park to its former grandeur. Newton's support and commitment to this project will help us revive this historically celebrated park to its former Victorian masterpiece of grace and beauty.
Copyright © 2014-2019 Friends of Farlow Park, Inc.
In 1880, John Farlow donated a parcel of open farmland to the City of Newton for the purpose of the development of a public park. Even though Newton had several private parks on large estates such as Billings Park, nowhere in the city was there a park for the average citizen. As part of a growing movement in urban park development in the Victorian era, (Boston Public Gardens 1837, New York’s Central Park 1858), the mission of which was “to improve public health and contribute greatly to a formation of a civil society,” the City of Newton was now in the position to be part of this effort to beautify its open spaces. Famous for his design of Boston Public Gardens, George Frederick Meacham provided a design for Farlow Park in 1880. Farlow Park was completed in 1888.
Citizens of Newton were proud to be at the forefront of urban planning, and examples of their pride can be found on postcards sent to friends and families throughout the United States. Farlow Park, with its native New England tree specimens and its winding pathways, along with the neighboring Chaffin Park, came to define Newton as the “Garden City”.
As with New York’s Central Park, and Boston's Public Gardens, each of which have experienced times when extensive restoration was necessary, Farlow Park is now in need of major attention. Over the years, the wooden bridge was torn down and replaced by a cement slab with chain link siding. The pond was drained and the depression partially filled with soil. No longer was Farlow Park the shining jewel of Newton where people of all ages would visit the reflective pond and commune with the natural beauty. No longer could children ice skate on the pond during the winter.
Before the Farlow Park Bridge and Pond restoration project, when sitting on the Victorian benches, the view was an unsightly bridge over a slight depression where grass grew. This once remarkable and noteworthy park which is on the list of the National Historic Register of Historic Places (Farlow-Kenrick Historic District) had been sorely neglected. Few people within our community had any idea of the park’s illustrious past.
In 2004 a group of Newton Corner residents gathered to advocate for the return of Farlow Park to its former stature. An informal neighborhood group (including many parents who had built the Underwood Playground) formed The Friends of Farlow Park. Over the last fourteen years, this group has worked with Newton Parks and Recreation and the Newton Planning and Development Departments to bring our restoration concept to fruition.
The Friends of Farlow Park have come a long way in the fourteen years.
In 2006, Brown, Richardson and Rowe, one of Boston’s premiere landscape architectural firms, provided a master plan for Farlow Park. The plan included the history of the park, a carefully laid out topography, as well as a phased improvement program and itemized costs.
In 2011, a feasibility study and preliminary construction documents for a pond and irrigation system were conducted by the engineering firm, Weston and Sampson. They determined that the recently drilled well at Farlow Park could adequately supply both a pond and an irrigation system. They also conducted a safety study that gathered information on thirteen different ponds located in Boston, Watertown, Worcester and Newton. Their report states, “Based upon the data gathered in the course of the year and extensive precedent studies conducted at similar features in public parks, near schools and playgrounds intended for young children, we have determined that the restoration of the Farlow Pond does not pose undue safety concerns.''
In 2014, Newton's Community Preservation Committee (CPC) recommended funding the Farlow Park project. Newton's Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to allocate Community Preservation dollars to this restoration project. Funding includes a new bridge, a restored pond and an updated irrigation system for the Underwood School baseball field. The CPC recommendation stipulated the Friends of Farlow Park needed to participate in the funding of project. We formed a non-profit 501c3 corporation in order to raise the funds requested by the CPC. We, the Friends of Farlow Park, met our goal signaling the city to break ground on the project.
In 2016, the Newton Parks and Recreation Department along with construction contractor A.J. Virgilio and Ray Dunetz Landscape Architects began one of the most complex park projects undertaken in Newton since the original bridge and pond were installed.
In 2018, the Farlow Park bridge, inspired by the former wooden Adirondack bridge, was revealed. This new bridge designed by local architect, Jay Walter, now spans the restored man-made pond.