Wednesday, September 24, 2008

St. Nicholas Park Hosts First Bloom with the First Lady

First Lady Laura Bush watches as participants in the First Bloom project at Hamilton Grange National Memorial discover the different things -- from bugs to twigs -- that can be found when you shake the branches of a shrub. Photo taken Sept. 24, 2008.

By Mindi Rambo, NPS (National Parks Service)

Hamilton Grange National Memorial in Harlem, served as the backdrop on September 24 for the second First Bloom event in New York City. First Bloom is a National Park Foundation (NFP) program that connects children to national parks through planting and gardening projects.

First Lady Laura Bush, NPF Honorary Chair, took a tour of the Grange, which moved June 7, and received a briefing on the historic building’s restoration from Stephen Spaulding, the National Park Service’s chief of architectural preservation division for the northeast region.

Mrs. Bush joined children from the Boys and Girls Clubs of Harlem and local schools on the grounds below the house and talked with them at a variety of “stations” where the children were learning about different aspects of gardening. At one table, she saw how they had planted seedlings in compostable pots. Kneeling next to the students at another station, Mrs. Bush took a keen interest in what they discovered when the shook a shrub and sorted what fell onto a tarp – mostly bark and insects. She also heard about their plans, which for one boy means growing up to become an architect.

“[First Bloom’s] a way to connect kids to their parks, their closest national park. And this, the Alexander Hamilton house behind us, is one of our national historic sites,” Mrs. Bush said. “And this neighborhood is going to get to watch while this house is restored. … There’s a historical architect who’s working on it, so it will be historical restoration. And while they watch the house being restored the kids in the neighborhood, and other community members, are going to be involved in planning the site.”

First Bloom was launched in 2007 by Mrs. Bush at the NPF Leadership Summit.
The program provides children in urban environments with the opportunity to get their hands in the dirt and experience planting and gardening in their neighborhoods and our national parks. It is believed that these efforts will “plant the seeds” of conservation and environmental stewardship in the next generation. Program partners include the NPS, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and community organizations that serve children.

The previous First Bloom event in New York took place at Castle Clinton National Monument on April 21, 2008

First Lady Laura Bush (far left) watches as Stephen Spaulding, chief of architectural preservation division for the northeast region of the National Park Service, talks with Nicholas Irving, a student who wants to be an architect when he grows up. First Lady Laura Bush arranged the introduction, when she learned about Nicholas' career plans during First Bloom at Hamilton Grange National Memorial on September 24, 2008. Photo taken Sept. 24, 2008.

Monday, September 15, 2008

HAMILTON GRANGE: Restoration Update September 2008

Original Roof Uncovered
The restoration of the Grange includes removing parts of the roof that were
added to the home after its completion in 1802. During the process of
stripping the roof back to expose its finishes and flashings, the historic
architects found evidence of the original 1802 balustrade, or decorative
detailing, that did not match existing photographic images of the home
taken in 1860. Also uncovered during the removal of the sheet metal
cladding of the two faux chimneys on the home were the original roof
shingles, 10" long hand-made pine shingles (see photo below). Both of these
‘discoveries’ will assist the National Park Service as the agency works
with great care and precision to restore Hamilton’s “Sweet Project” to its
former splendor.

Exhibit Design Firm To Seek Community Input
Following the restoration of the Grange, exhibits about the historical
significance and cultural meanings of the Grange and Alexander Hamilton
will be installed in parts of the home’s basement and first floor. To begin
this process, the National Park Service (NPS) will hire an exhibit planning
and design firm through an existing architectural/engineering contract.
The firm that is selected will be required to consult with scholars,
historical architects, NPS exhibit specialists and members of the Harlem
community, to gain an understanding of the diverse themes and stories
associated with the Grange. As an initial step, in a public meeting members
of the community will be asked to provide the designers their perspectives
and opinions. Information will soon be released on how you can participate.

Convent Avenue Sidewalk To Be Replaced & Reopened
The NPS is aware of the safety concerns and inconvenience due to the
continued closure to pedestrian traffic of the west side sidewalk on
Convent Avenue in front of the former Grange site. The NPS’ contractor,
which under their contract controls the property, has submitted permit
requests to the appropriate City of New York authorities seeking approval
to replace the sidewalk. Once the contractor receives the required permits,
they will begin work on the sidewalk within two days and should have it
completed within another three days. We apologize for the inconvenience and
thank the community for their continued patience.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


A stray dog was found in St. Nicholas Park this morning. If you recognize this dog and know who the owner might be OR if you are interested in adopting this dog, please contact the Friends of St. Nicholas Park.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Salon Sessions Success!

The Anthropologists' FIRST EVER Salon Session was presented Saturday, August 30th at St. Nicholas Park!

The group collected 50 six-word stories in 4 different languages throughout the day and approximately 30 people joined us for the show and stayed for some delicious sweet potato pie from Harlem's famous Make My Cake. We had a fantastic time and hope that you enjoyed the show, the project, and meeting the theatre company.

Please visit their website ( for upcoming performances in this, and other, series.