Sunday, May 8, 2011

Untermeyer Park, Yonkers, NY

This is Untermeyer Park, once the estate of  corporate lawyer Samuel Untermeyer.  It is also known as the Untermeyer Garden Conservancy, a non profit organization dedicated to restoring the lovely Persian garden of Mr. Untermeyer.

I am sitting in the middle of a round temple pictured below on the head of Medusa from the Greek myths.  For those who don't know, one look in her eyes and all men would turn to stone.  Perseus would finally end her reign by beheading her.  This round temple sits atop a swimming pool, also decorated with mosaic tiles depicting sea life, such as fish, sea horses and a lobster. 

The gardens were designed by Welles Bosworth in 1912 and covered over 150 acres overlooking the Hudson River.  At one time it was maintained by 60 gardeners and was supplied by 60 greenhouses.  It was also open to the public every week in the 20's and 30's.  According to the official website, in 1939,  30,000 people visited the gardens in just one day. In 1946,  Yonkers acquired only a part of the gardens and in 1990, would acquire another part making a total of 45 acres.

Entrance to the walled garden
Samuel Untermeyer was a prominent lawyer in his day, and later became a trust buster.  He had a large part in creating the Federal Reserve System and set up legal reforms for the stock exchanges.  He was a Democrat and a close friend of Woodrow Wilson.  His wife, Minnie, was famous for bringing conductor Gustav Mahler to the New York Philharmonic in 1909.

But Samuel Untermeyer was also a passionate horticulturist and wanted these gardens to be the "finest in the world."    He knew much about gardening and often recruited English gardeners to maintain his beautiful gardens.  According to the official website, if he had to live his life over again, he would have wanted to be Parks Commissioner. 

Griffins by Paul Manship. . It is said that these mythical creatures always guarded something precious such as music and culture. In this case they guard the small amphitheater in back.

The outside wall before entering the garden.  Note the battlements and towers typical of Persian gardens.
Back of the garden taken from the stage of the amphitheater.
The Persian Gardens are divided into four sections, featuring the elements of fire, ice, water and earth, The enclosed gardens symbolizes paradise while the four water segments symbolize the rivers of paradise.  Corner towers were served as forts, lookouts or just summer housing.  There is also a spectacular view of the Palisades. 

Swimming pool and lovely view of the Palisades

Eagles Nest also known as the Temple of Love. You can climb down the steps to a cave.

The Temple of Love or Eagle's Nest was designed as a centerpiece for a rock garden which no longer can be seen.  You can climb up to the top and look out at the magnificent view of the Palisades, then climb to the bottom to visit the cave.  There is also a gruesome history to this park. It is rumored that Son of Sam visited this park often and some animal sacrifices were performed at the cave in the 70's. 
 Here are some more pics that were taken yesterday.

This is Tom who helped us find the Temple of Love and gave us some history of the park.
Lower gardens
Here are some links.

Official website.  This not only contains extensive history of the gardens but there is a gallery full of before and after pictures of the garden and the mansion that once the Untermeyers lived in.  It has been torn down and is now a hospital. Check out the Smithsonian collection of slides of the beautiful gardens from 1940 located in the gallery section.

Abandoned New York site.  This tells the history of the Son of Sam and the animal sacrifices inside the cave.

Wikipedia site

Lost Beauty.  More pictures of Untermeyer Park

Magnificent view of the Palisades
The cave


  1. Another wonderful place I would love to visit if I lived in the area!

  2. I think I would love to visit here, too! Sounds very interesting and I like the pics! Thanks Clyde!!