The Concert Grove Pavilion in Prospect Park reopened April 7 after a year-long restoration effort, breathing new life into a gathering space that central Brooklyn was deprived of for more than half a decade.
Thanks to a $2 million makeover secured by the Brooklyn City Council delegation and former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the pavilion is open to park-goers for the first time since 2014 when its ancient roof began to fall apart — and just in time for the warm weather.
“This is the gateway to our community,” said Seth Kaplan, a member of the Prospect Park Community Committee and an organizer in Prospect Lefferts Gardens. “People would come here for birthday parties, for weddings, for so many events. Restoring it is kind of like restoring the heart of this side of the park.”
The pavilion was an original part of landscape architects Olmstead and Vaux’s 1874 design of Brooklyn’s Backyard and has been restored multiple times, including after it was wrecked by a fire in the 1970s. It features eight cast-iron columns and a decorative, arched metal and wood roof with a stained-glass skylight added during a 1988 restoration.
The architect behind the most recent restoration said his team worked to correct a feature from the 1988 overhaul that caused water to drain incorrectly and damage the roof, causing much of the harm that forced the pavilion to be fenced off for years.
“Because it was done wrong, water sort of poured down the wood in the wrong direction, and water will just destroy wood,” said Alden Maddry of the Prospect Park Alliance. “That led to most of the damage at the perimeter.”
The restoration also repaired the pavilion’s lights, which were broken for years before, allowing for use after dark.
The pavilion — long-referred to as the “Oriental Pavilion” due to some of the Hindu and Chinese motifs found in its architecture — also has a better name, said one Park Slope pol.
“They got a lot of things right but they got some things wrong, too,” said Councilmember Brad Lander of those who built and made famous the pavilion. “They named this place the Oriental Pavilion, and they could have known even then that that was not what Asian-American Brooklynites of that time wanted to be called … so we have one thing we’re doing better.”
“It is not going to be called that anymore,” Lander went on.
The Prospect Park Alliance has completed multiple renovations of park features over the past year, including restorations of the Endale Arch and the ballfields, and the opening of a new entrance to the park on Flatbush Avenue.
The Concert Grove Pavilion is open to the public as of this week, and events can be hosted under its roof with a $25 permit from the Parks Department.