Prospect Park’s Endale Arch reopened to the public last week after a five-year renovation that revealed the monument’s original architectural details and restored the original piece of Brooklyn’s Backyard.
The victorian arch, which funnels park-goers from the footpaths near Grand Army Plaza to the sprawling Meadow, was designed by the lawn’s original visionaries Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted over 150 years ago, and has remained a staple of the greenspace ever since, said Prospect Park Alliance President Sue Donoghue.
“This arch and its companion next door, Meadowport Arch, were envisioned by Olmsted and Vaux as being transporting entrances to the majestic long meadow,” Donoghue said on Nov. 13. “They envisioned it as leaving the dirt and difficulties of the city behind and entering this gorgeous space.”
The $500,000 restoration — which was paid for through Councilman Brad Lander’s participatory budget, along with the Tiger Baron Foundation — revealed original details in the woodwork that had been hidden under layers of paint for decades, and renewed a pattern of limestone, sandstone, and brownstone in the arch laid by 19th-century stonemasons.
The restored arch pays tribute to its original design, with the intentions of Calvert and Vaux in mind, according to the contractor who led the restoration.
“When you’re working behind Calvert Vaux and Olmstead, it’s very humbling, and you feel a lot of pressure to get the details right,” said Curtis Barnhart. “These aren’t the stars of the park, they’re just little gems, but you feel responsibility because of the amount of time and thought they put into these things.”
Along with the interior of the arch, workers also helped restore the nearby landscaping, as well as stabilize the surrounding hillsides to shore-up the relic in the park’s northern corner.
The restored arch is one segment of a larger effort that the Prospect Park Alliance is making to improve that section of the park, which also includes restoring the Vale Woodlands, refurbishing the Grand Army Plaza berms, and adding two new entrances to the Flatbush Avenue side of the greenspace.