A big loss for Pastorius Park in 2023

by Tracy Gardner, President, Friends of Pastorius Park
Posted 1/3/24

As 2023 draws to a close, the Friends of Pastorius Park can look back on a year that continued our sustained and significant progress in our ongoing park restoration.

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A big loss for Pastorius Park in 2023


As 2023 draws to a close, the Friends of Pastorius Park can look back on a year that continued our sustained and significant progress in our ongoing restoration of Pastorius.

In March local garden club volunteers from Wissahickon Garden Club and Garden Club of Philadelphia installed 30 new plants along the park’s upper stream and in planting beds near the warming hut. 

This included Pawpaw trees, Camellias, Redtwig Dogwoods, Hydrangeas, Winterberry, Magnolias, Azaleas, Hibiscus, and Iris. Other new trees installed in the park this year are Bur Oaks, Franklinia, Pond Cypress, Oriental Spruce, and most recently, Yellowwood, Sawtooth Oak, and Hackberry.

Arbor Day 2023 saw for a second year in a row a terrific charitable effort by local arborists McFarland-Shechtman Tree Care, John B. Ward & Co., and Hedgerows Tree Service, who pruned many of the legacy trees off Millman St. and the Sunrise Lane end of the park. Later in early summer, we had several nuisance and dying trees removed, as well as pruning of all of the remaining red oak trees, which are on their way out. Our young grove of virgin American Chestnut trees is thriving above the NE meadow, and this is largely due to vigilant volunteers’ TLC.

Many maintenance projects were accomplished this year as well. The warming hut exterior trim was cleaned, repaired, and repainted. Volunteer Maria Marcolongo power washed the hut's ironwood benches and removed old paint gently from some of the hut’s stonework. The pond was drained, cleaned, and refilled in March, and the moat was cleaned of several years’ worth of sediment, leaves and organic matter at the end of August.

Despite all these advances in our stewardship of the park, FoPP and our entire community were stricken in October by the tragic death of our dear friend and restoration advisor, Paul Meyer. 

No one was more stalwart in support of Pastorius Park’s original Fred Peck, Olmsted-inspired design, or worked harder to sustain and move forward restoration work at the park. To honor Paul, two beautiful oak benches, designed, worked, and lovingly inscribed by master woodworker and FoPP Vice-President, James McNabb, are installed off Millman above the amphitheater. 

Other tributes and donations in memory of Paul have poured in, including Brian Ames’ (of Wissahickon Tree & Landscape) generous, adept dry stone repair of stonework in Pastorius’ upper stream.

Going forward past this profound loss, FoPP is embarking on a project near and dear to Paul’s heart: the habitat restoration of the NE woods off Shawnee St. and W. Hartwell Lane, and erosion mitigation in this part of the park. Our organization has already had a thorough survey and mapping done for this project, and armed with the data from this survey we will consult with landscape designer Bob Gray, and local historian and landscape architect Rob Fleming to determine the best design and planting plan for these woods. 

2024 will be devoted to developing these plans, fundraising, and grant applications. FoPP is aiming for a 2025 installation of this big restoration project, and we are dedicating it to Paul.

Please consider making a donation to FoPP to further all this great work, keeping in mind Paul’s wonderful adage, “Make a difference, plant a tree.” 

FoPP is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and your gift is fully tax deductible. Checks can be mailed to: Friends of Pastorius Park, PO Box 27158, Market Square Station, Philadelphia, PA 19118. Donations can also be made at friendsofpastorius.org.