Friends receives grant for Fountain in renovated Asa Gray Garden

February 1, 2018


The Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust
awards a grant of $250,000 to name

With gratitude, Mount Auburn Cemetery announces that the Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust has awarded a grant of $250,000 for the rejuvenation of Asa Gray Garden to name the center Fountain, The Pierce Fountain. The grant, along with other individual gifts to the Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery totaling $1.5 million dollars to date, will help the Cemetery transform this prominent garden into a year-round horticultural showpiece. Envisioned as one of the great ornamental gardens in the Boston area, it will feature a central fountain and reflective pool surrounded by a diverse mix of over 130 species of trees, shrubs, flowering perennials and annuals, bulbs and grasses.

Pierce Fountain, rendering by Halvorson Design 

“This gift will name the Garden’s centerpiece fountain, the Pierce Fountain, and serve as a lasting legacy of the generosity of the Trust,” says Mount Auburn President and CEO David Barnett. “We hope that the Trust’s generosity will encourage others to make gifts towards this project, which has a goal of $2 million in contributed support.” Integral to the transformation of the garden, the fountain was designed by Halvorson Design Partnership to be uplifting, meditative, soothing and feel like an integrated part of the landscape. The design on the raised portion of the Canadian Mahogany granite fountain is a modified contemporary interpretation of reeds and aquatic grasses.

The Harold Whitworth Pierce Charitable Trust has been a generous supporter of Mount Auburn in the past, including several critical historic preservation projects such as the preservation of the Egyptian Revival cast iron gateway fence, the addition of a new historically-appropriate covered entry at Story Chapel, and the 2005 preservation and stabilization of Bigelow Chapel.

The revitalization of Asa Gray Garden will transform the prominent gathering place, located just inside the front entrance gate between Mount Auburn’s two chapels, into a welcoming, space for contemplation, relaxation, and inspiration. An unusually diverse mix of species from both eastern Asia and eastern North America will be incorporated into the four-season garden to reflect the legacy of Harvard University botany professor Asa Gray, widely considered to be the most important American botanist of the 19th century. It was through his work with herbarium specimens, including thousands from the earliest plant collectors in the Far East, that Gray made a groundbreaking biogeographical hypothesis on the connections between the floras of Eastern North America and Eastern Asia.

To honor his contributions, Mount Auburn’s horticulture and curatorial staff has worked intensively with the award-winning firm of Halvorson Design and colleagues from The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University to create a planting design showcasing the impressive array of Asian plant species that have impacted horticulture in New England. “The renovation of Asa Gray Garden has long been a dream of our horticulture staff, ever since in 1999 when four large Japanese Maple trees were transplanted to the Garden from the Boston Public Library to save them from being cut down in a major courtyard renovation project,” says Dave Barnett. “We are delighted to have the support to move forward on the transformation of this public space.”

To learn more contact Jenny Gilbert, Director of Institutional Advancement at 617-607-1970 or for more information.

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