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Longwood Gardens reaches new heights

Nowhere else is there a setting that so superbly marries fountains, music, theatre and gardens like the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood Gardens. First turned on in 1931, the Garden is emerging from a two-year revitalisation that will have the fountains dancing again

When Longwood Gardens founder Pierre S du Pont began developing the Main Fountain Garden in 1929, his vision was inspired by numerous trips to Europe, his recollections of world’s fairs, and the success of the Italian Water Garden and Open Air Theatre fountains he had already built at Longwood, located just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the US. For 83 years du Pont’s hydraulic masterpiece was a hallmark of the Longwood experience, attracting more than 1.35 million guests each year to relish its beauty, engineering and showmanship. Good design stands the test of time; plumbing, however, tends to decay. Stonework showed the signs of age, some fountains became inoperable and technology from the 1920s could not withstand the 10,000 gallons of water per minute pumped during shows. These realities led us in 2014 to invest in the future of our iconic and beloved Garden and begin New Heights: The Fountain Revitalization Project.

The Main Fountain Garden in 1950
The Main Fountain Garden in 1950

As Longwood embarked on preserving the Garden, the team looked to the future to honour du Pont’s vision and ensure the continued enjoyment of the fountains. “A fountain and garden are living, joyful gifts and the charge of reawakening the Main Fountain Garden at Longwood is an exercise in creativity, thoughtfulness and responsibility. It demands respect for how forward-looking the space was in its era and carrying that intent forward to build a magical, innovative and full sensory experience. It is a place both heralded and unique in the world,” said Longwood Gardens president & CEO Paul B Redman.

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Highlights of the project include the restoration of 4,000 pieces of limestone, new mechanical and electrical infrastructure and a brand new Garden experience, the Grotto. To improve guest access, enhanced pathways, an elaborate boxwood hedge and inviting alleés are being created. The use of cutting-edge technology will bring the fountain displays soaring to greater heights, making the revitalised Main Fountain Garden a truly unmatched visitor experience.

Rendering of the completed Main Fountain Garden
Rendering of the completed Main Fountain Garden

The revitalisation of Longwood’s Main Fountain Garden is the largest fountain preservation project of its kind in the US. Such a massive and complex effort takes a dream team of talent to restore the old while introducing the new. Longwood is collaborating with a stellar international line-up including Beyer Blinder Belle, the premier architectural firm specialising in historic preservation, West 8, a world renowned landscape architecture firm, and Fluidity Design Consultants, a water feature design and engineering firm.

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The revitalised Main Fountain Garden will delight and astound guests when it returns May 27 2017, launching a summer of celebration at the renowned Longwood. For details, visit longwoodgardens.org.

 

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