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A 150-year-old archway in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park got a stunning restoration that rivals its past glory.

The Prospect Park Alliance reopened the Endale Arch, which provides access to Long Meadow from Grand Army Plaza, on November 13 at the end of a five-year restoration that cost $500,000.

Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in the late 1860s, the historic archway was one of the first constructions in Prospect Park. The two architects were also among the designers of Central Park in Manhattan.

Over the decades, the arch fell into disrepair as interior details were concealed by anti-graffiti paint and wood panels rotted away due to more than a century of water damage. “On especially rainy days, the arch appeared less as a pedestrian walkway and more like a Venetian canal,” the Alliance described the problem in a blog post.  

The phased restoration kicked off in 2015 with support from the Tiger Baron Foundation and New York City’s District 39. In the first stages of the repair, the Alliance worked to stabilize the arch’s stone retaining walls and surrounding hillsides, remove invasive plants, add a collection of native plantings, address drainage issues, and reduce potential flooding and water damage. 

The final stage, executed with Barnhart Restoration, restored the arch’s alternating yellow Berea sandstone and New Jersey brownstone, as well as its white pine and black walnut wood paneling, which was hidden for nearly a century.

The Alliance said in a statement that during this final phase, layers of paint and grit were peeled back, “revealing handsome original details that the design team was surprised and delighted to find.”

As a tribute to the original design, the restoration team left one brick and granite cross vault exposed to display the “detailed craftsmanship put in place over 150 years ago.”

The marvelous details of the arch interior are visible during nighttime thanks to new LED lighting installed by the park. Beyond aesthetic enjoyment, the new lights also help make this section of the park feel a little safer in the wee hours.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...