Horace Gray (1800-1873)

Horticulturalist, Philanthropist, Father of the Boston Public Gardens

Horace Gray, an iron manufacturer, is considered to be the true founder of the Boston Public Garden. 

After accumulating a large fortune, Gray turned his attention to gardening, raising prize grapes and flowers in his private greenhouses.  In 1838, with a group of horticulturally minded Bostonians, Gray created a giant conservatory in the northeast corner of what is now the Public Garden.

By 1847, before the plans for ornamental gardens and an arboretum on site could be realized, Gray, who was financing the project, lost his fortune and the conservatory burned to the ground. Although the cause for the Public Garden at first seemed doomed, a new group of Bostonians took up the garden cause in the early 1850s and convinced the city of Boston to protect the Public Garden as a place for public use.

The Garden belongs to the people of Boston. It is their heritage and they require it forthemselves and their children forever. Let them take care of it. Now is the time for them to speak and to rescue this charming place.” 

In order to save the Public Garden, flyers like the one on the right were circulated throughout Boston urging all citizens to vote for the protection of the garden from developers.  

Horace Gray is buried in his family's plot in lot 701 on Lily Path in Mount Auburn.