Delaware Park - Table of Contents ......................Museum District - Table of Contents

Delaware Park Rose Garden
Delaware Park, Buffalo, NY

For rentals, contact the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy

Arts & Crafts style entrance ... Pergola in background is a popular site for wedding photos

Marcy Casino



By Martha Neri
Pub. on "The Compass," the Explore Buffalo volunteer newsletter, July 2019

In early 1917 the parks department at City Hall designed a rose garden to be located near the park casino. It is very similar to that designed by A. D. Taylor, 1883-1951, a landscape architect in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1908, Taylor joined the office of Warren H. Manning, 1860-1938, who had worked for Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., 1888-1896, initially as a horticulturist. Manning’s work with Olmsted heavily influenced Taylor’s work. He submitted his “Study for Arrangement of Rose Garden,” Delaware Park, Buffalo, NY, in 1916.

The garden is laid out in the manner of a French Parterre. That means it is a level space in a garden occupied by an ornamental arrangement of flowerbeds. Its characteristics include geometric lines, uniformly shaped plants and planting beds, walkways and borders. The goal is to have everything in balance because symmetry is very important in this style. The gravel paths are edged, sometimes with clipped hedges such as boxwood, lavender or rosemary, and laid out in symmetrical patterns. In a formal garden such as this there is usually a terrace where the view is best seen when standing on the pergola.  A pergola is an arbor with a projecting roof and a trellis of vines forming a shaded walkway or sitting area of vertical posts or pillars. This pergola consists of a solid roof and columns similar to the Tuscan order.
They are very plain in design, with a plain shaft, and a simple capital, base, and frieze.

The garden was dedicated in August of 1917 and soon attracted thousands of visitors. The rosebushes named on the plan were planted as planned. The Rose Garden was well maintained by park staff until the mid-1930s.

In 1930, sculptress Lauren Gardin Fraser, was commissioned to create a water fountain to be located in the center of the plan. It was named “Grape Baby.” It has since disappeared and its whereabouts are unknown. There is a different fountain in its place.

In 1937 the Rose Garden was one of several sites suggested for a new music hall. When Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans died in 1934, their estates proposed funding a new music hall for Buffalo. Surveys were taken and it was voted the most popular because it was near the Art Gallery and the Delaware Park Lake. Two more sites were proposed for the hall, both in Humboldt Park, now Martin Luther King, Jr. Park. Another site was the estate of the late Mr. and Mrs. Trueman Avery located at The Circle and Porter Ave. It was built in 1892 and had been unoccupied since Mrs. Avery died in 1922. Their heirs, who lived on Oakland Place, decided to sell the property to the City of Buffalo for a nominal cost. Construction of Kleinhans Music Hall was begun in 1938 and completed in 1940. The Circle was renamed “Symphony Circle” in 1958.

During the next several decades the Rose Garden did not receive much attention. The most likely cause was the Great Depression. Rose gardens require a great deal of work year-round and there weren’t employees to care for it. In 1966 the Buffalo Parks Department created and implemented a plan to rehabilitate the long neglected Rose Garden.

Many times since the 1960s hundreds of rose bushes and thousands of volunteer hours were accumulated to maintain the Rose Garden. According to an April 2000 article from the Buffalo News, the WNY Rose Society donated 860 rose bushes to the Rose garden. Since 2004, when the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy entered into a unique agreement with the City of Buffalo, the Conservancy assumed the full operations and maintenance of the Olmsted park system.

In 2015 the pergola was entirely restored with the efforts of the BOPC Staff that did the research, plan-
ning and supervision of the project. Today, there is a BOPC specialty gardener dedicated to the care of the Rose Garden.

Rose Garden Grape Baby Fountain
By Laura Gardin Fraser
c.1926 photo
Anne Kinney Offermann and her cousin Bob Wittig at the fountain now dismantled
Research by Barbara Townsend

Photos and their arrangement © 2012 Chuck LaChiusa
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