15 May 2012

Jefferson Market Garden

Walking through the Village on Sunday I spotted some lovely red roses peeping over a black iron fence near the Jefferson Market library. To my amazement, the gates were open and inside I made a wonderful discovery.

Mere steps from busy Sixth Avenue was a hidden garden. Walking slowly along a brick path that wrapped around a lush green lawn, I took in the trees including yellowwoods and crabapples, a pond filled with koi and goldfish, a blooming rose garden, and benches tucked into hollows including one under a rose-draped trellis. I couldn't believe my eyes. How was it I hadn't been inside before?

I soon found the answer. The garden is opened to visitors only on certain afternoons in spring and summer when the weather is nice so I've probably always passed by at the wrong time. I also learned that the site was originally the location of the Women's House of Detention (the library next door was a courthouse at the time). Built in 1931, the prison generated a lot of attention for its art deco design and for stories of the constant noise that rang out from the prison as the incarcerated women shouted down to people below. The prison was demolished in 1973 and two years later the Jefferson Market Garden was born.

Today the garden is maintained by a group of volunteers and plays host to concerts and children's events. I can't wait to return with my camera (I only had my phone that day) and capture more of the garden's loveliness. 

To find out more about the garden, visit their website here

Photos by Michele. 

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