Written by Curator/Garden Manager Lindsey Kerr
(That title doesn’t sound quite right, does it?)
With a dusting of snow and the ground still frozen, work on the Gaiety Hollow driveway has come to a pause. Although it isn’t the most pleasant of sights at the moment, we are looking forward to the finished product as soon as the weather warms.
Most passersby will only notice the construction zone in the front yard, but there has been a lot of work behind the scenes leading to this moment. Dedicated volunteers have spent many hours researching the history of the driveway–yes, driveways have history!–and choosing the best plan for its rehabilitation.
When Gaiety Hollow was constructed in 1932, Edith and Elizabeth drove a Packard. The car was very small by today’s standards and the driveway narrow. A gate, designed by Edith, spanned the drive.
Thirty years later, Edith and Elizabeth were driving a Lincoln Continental, a much larger vehicle. (I think my mother would describe this car as a “boat”). The driveway had been widened and the original gate removed.
Today, we are rehabilitating the driveway to reflect as best as possible the original intent. A few of the original slabs of concrete, laid in a Spanish bond pattern, are cracked and need to be re-poured. Those that are in good condition will be relaid in the same place. A strip of concrete to the sides, added at an unknown date, will be removed and grass put down, per the original design. A new gate–styled after Edith’s original design–will be crafted and put in place.
We would dearly love to take the driveway back to its design in 1932, but considering modern uses, it simply isn’t practical. Modern trucks and vans are much wider and the narrow width of the old driveway would have, undoubtedly, led to vehicles scraping the gate posts. Thus, the width of the driveway will remain the same as Edith and Elizabeth knew it in the 60s, but with a gate that reflects the look of an earlier time.
We are also taking this opportunity to repair the lawn nearest the driveway and, later this season, to begin work on restoring the shrub border along the driveway.
Thanks to our generous donors and volunteers for making these projects possible. Special thanks to Russell Schutte at AC + Co Architecture | Community for his assistance with the project.