Things are getting exciting over here at 4400 Bellaire Blvd. and Newcastle! The park scenery started changing dramatically on June 16, when the building steel started going up and the structure for the future event space took shape! Additional framing will be happening in the next few weeks!
While rain is normally a good thing, unfortunately, this year, there has been too much rain. The damaging flooding from torrential rains that were so devastating to our area friends and neighbors also slowed down Evelyn's Park construction. Due to weather delays, we are currently hoping to open around the end of the year.
Even as the rain poured, a great deal of site preparation, earthwork, foundation pouring, and a host of other early stage construction tasks were happening; they were just not very visible to passersby. The Newcastle sewer project is almost complete, and we appreciate your patience during the Newcastle closures needed for these storm and sewer line tie-ins.
Additional exciting behind the scenes steps are also taking place. Progress on the Wonderland Sculpture, Move One Place On, continues with the bronzing phase in a foundry at Santa Fe, and café operators Jamie and Dalia Zelko are working hard on the equipment phase of the café kitchen. We will continue to keep you updated with more exciting progress reports and pictures as the park develops.
If you have driven by Evelyn’s Park recently, it may not seem as though there is a tremendous amount of activity or construction trucks, however, a majority of our efforts have been going on behind the scenes as we focus on soil preparation in order ensure the future sustainability of the trees and plants at the Park.
In the process of beginning site construction preparation for Evelyn's Park, unusually deep deposits of debris and gravel have been uncovered beneath the topsoil layer over significant segments of the site. While the presence of gravel in an urban site is not unusual, the density and depth of the material in certain areas is greater than anticipated. These dense gravel soils have the potential to affect soil drainage and inhibit root development of trees shrub and groundcover. As such removal and/or relocation of these soils is required to ensure the long-term health of the park landscape.
There’s over a 100 years of history on this five acres of property and it is critical as we move forward that we ensure the finest quality of soil for all of our vegetation to survive and thrive.
As a team, Evelyn's Park Conservancy, the City of Bellaire, the professional landscape architects of SWA, and Linbeck Construction have been working to put into place corrective measures to ensure that these dense concentrations of gravel are dealt with effectively and cost efficiently on the site through the site grading process. We have completed the planning work, and soon you will see equipment on site and working once again! Once these additional grading operations are complete, we can continue with construction of the cafe and event buildings, berms and gardens.
The best news is that when all is said and done on the soil front, Evelyn’s Park is still scheduled to open Summer of 2016, and will be prepared to host visitors for the next hundred years and beyond.
Dear Evelyn's Park Supporters,
Evelyn's Park Conservancy ("EPC") is excited to share some exciting news and updates about the construction on the property as we move forward to green the park!
Evelyn's Park Conservancy is thrilled to be working with Trees for Houston, the non-profit responsible for planting nearly half a million trees in the Bayou City over the last 30 years.
EPC has received a generous donation from Trees for Houston that will fund over 320 new trees in Evelyn's Park!
“We are always looking for an urban green space to create or enhance, and Evelyn’s Park was a perfect partner for us,” said Barry Ward, Executive Director of Trees for Houston. “We have been working with EPC for the last two years, growing trees to maximize dollars while maintaining quality to ensure our trees thrive when planted. There will be a vast improvement in the quality and quantity of trees at Evelyn’s Park, and what we are doing in the next eighteen months will be visible for generations to come!”
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to bring back so many trees to the Houston area,” said Patricia King-Ritter, President of Evelyn’s Park Conservancy. “Together with the hundreds of plants, herbs, and flowers, this park will be a natural oasis right in the heart of the city. This collaboration will really honor the historic green nature of the property, which has been associated with plants and trees for over 100 years.”
If you have driven by Evelyn’s Park recently, you will have noticed that construction has officially begun at the Park. Currently the five acres of land are getting primed and ready for soil preparation, as that will play a key role in the future sustainability of the trees and plants at Evelyn’s Park. You may have also noticed that many trees are being fenced in to be protected from construction. EPC is working hard with world-renowned landscape architects SWA to preserve as many of the mature trees as possible. Unfortunately, some of the trees on the property were either diseased or at risk. These trees suffer from wood rot, drought, lightning damage, and other diseases.
Luckily, many of the older, established trees are being saved. These efforts began as early as the design phase, which planned the future park around the existing, salvageable trees. “The beautiful pecan, oak, and cypress trees have been incorporated into the design of the Park,” said Scott McCready, Principal at SWA. “They obviously will provide shade and make the park more habitable during the warmer months, but they also provide a sense of history and longevity. We are so fortunate to be involved in this defining project for the City of Bellaire. Building park spaces is the highest level of design we do, and we look forward to sharing our vision for Evelyn’s Park with the community.”
As part of EPC’s mission, we are reusing and repurposing as many materials from the old Teas Nursery as possible, and the same is true with the trees that are being torn down on the property. Any healthy parts of these trees are being repurposed into the children’s playground as tree stumps to climb, or repurposed into benches and tables for Evelyn’s Park.
Evelyn’s Park has implemented a “Watch Us Grow” tree program that allows donors to earmark their donations specifically to help support the planting and maintaining of trees on the property. Those who plant trees can request a certificate in honor or memory of a loved one or occasion. “We know that the planting and maintaining of the trees is critical to the success of the park and its mission,” says Ritter.
For more information or to donate a tree visit http://evelynspark.org/donate/tree/.
Dear Evelyn's Park supporters,
The Evelyn's Park Conservancy and the City of Bellaire join the community in its appreciation and love of the historic property that is Evelyn's Park. As the plans for the park have evolved, the beloved "Little Yellow House" is, and has always been, a cornerstone of the property. To preserve and incorporate the essence of the Yellow House, it is integrated into the design of the park, to be converted into the new cafe.
The Conservancy and the City began the process to save the original house structure, including flea removal, bee removal, interim repairs including water-damage repairs, and asbestos abatement. The City, the Conservancy, and the Building Committee explored every possible avenue to incorporate and save the existing structure. The original plans required integrating new systems into an existing, old structure which is significantly challenging in the best of circumstances. Throughout this process, the long-term maintenance and durability of the structure was in question. With the additional requirement of removing or encapsulating all of the lead paint from the building and meeting new building and safety standards and requirements, the challenge of restoring the structure for long-term safety became even greater. Even with all of these precautions, the building could still present new problems. As stewards of the City's investment, the Building Committee and the Conservancy have concluded that rebuilding a new structure, with the same character, look, essence and original footprint, was the safest and most effective solution for the Park. The City Council approved this decision in their March public meeting.
We are confident that the history and character of the yellow house will be completely maintained. The new structure will be rebuilt to duplicate the old; the footprint has not changed and the new structure will preserve the essence and integrity of the site, as well as ensure the lifespan of the structure for the enjoyment of generations of park visitors. Existing salvageable parts of the property will be reborn in the new structures on the property.
Most importantly, we are thrilled to announce that local Bellaire builder and resident Roy Gabbay of RG Homes has volunteered his skills as an antique wood restorer to salvage and restore many of the original doors and pieces from the property to be repurposed in the park. In the last few weeks we have worked diligently to salvage everything that is salvageable from the yellow house and the office building, including the wood, the doors, the rafter tails and the eave brackets, to be repurposed on the property. Expect to see them in cafe tables, office furniture and more. Look forward to a great deal more information on the exciting transformation and use of these pieces.
<p.Additionally, the property's historical marker has been removed for storage in compliance with the Texas Historical Commission, and will be returned to the property as soon as the construction is complete. We look forward to continuing the legacy of this property as green space and a gathering place for the community, honoring the past and incorporating it into our future.
Patricia Ritter, President
A whimsical bronze sculpture will stand at the focus of the Evelyn Rubenstein memorial garden within Evelyn's Park, serving as a "destination spot" for visitors to the Houston area and for fans of the endearing and enduring story of Alice in Wonderland.
On the 150th anniversary of this classic novel, local artist Bridgette Mongeon, inspired by the "tea party" scene within Lewis Carroll's book, will sculpt a ten-foot table with eight-foot bronze characters hosting the fanciful feast. The table will seat six to eight additional, living guests, allowing families to bring a picnic and join the tea party among Alice, the March Hare, the Cheshire Cat, the Dormouse, and the Mad Hatter.
The Jerry and Maury Rubenstein Foundation commissioned the sculpture in honor of their mother, Evelyn. The larger-than-life scene will reside within Evelyn’s Park at 4400 Bellaire Boulevard (the former site of Teas Nursery) with an anticipated completion in late 2016.
Bridgette Mongeon designed the sculpture, which she has titled "Move One Place On" after the Mad Hatter's constant refrain at the tea party from Alice in Wonderland. In honor of the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll's book in 2015, Mongeon is also creating — and hiding — 150 different elements from the book within the sculpture, inviting park visitors on a journey of discovery. For example, if guests look carefully, they may find a small Humpty Dumpty or the White Queen, tucked into the bronze "bark" legs of the table and benches.
Mongeon designed the sculpture using 3D-modeling software, and the piece will be produced, in part, using computer-controlled milling machinery. She presented her work at 3D Printer World Expo in 2015, and is also working on a book about the process.
This unique sculpture will bring an additional element of beauty, fun, and intrigue to Evelyn's Park. The concept of interactive art, where visitors can join in the tea party and the treasure hunt for hidden elements, appeals to all ages. We invit you to watch the progress of this incredible sculpture. For more information on the artist, the development of the sculpture, and the 3D process, please click the accompanying links.