The National Arts Club

There are some places you step into and you’re instantly whisked into a bygone time. The National Arts Club in Gramercy Park is one of those . I visited  this legendary private clubhouse during Open House  Weekend  last year and was  impressed with   intricately carved fireplaces, period furniture, and pieces from the permanent collection.
 The Club was founded in 1898 by Charles de Kay. An art and literary critic who worked for 18 years for the New York Times, de Kay was also an ardent fan of fencing, founding the Fencer’s Club in New York.  In March of 1898, de Kay called together a number of civic leaders and men prominent in the art world who supported the idea, elected the first officers and incorporated the Club in 1899.  A show of American gold and silver work in October 1899 was the first exhibition held at the National Arts Club.

English Garden and fountain in Central Park

The only formal garden in Central park is the six-acre Conservatory Garden,  located at the northern part of the park. The Garden's main entrance is through the Vanderbilt Gate, on Fifth Avenue between 104th and 105th Streets. These iron gates were made in Paris in  1894 for  the  Vanderbilt mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th Street. The Cornelius Vanderbilt II mansion was, and remains, the largest private residence ever built in New York City., After Cornelius died,  his wife Alice, before selling the house, donated as many elements from the interiors as she could, including donated the 10-foot-tall metal front entryway gates. 

Conservatory Garden is divided  into three smaller gardens-  Italian, French, and English. The Italianate center garden is composed of a large lawn surrounded by the  yew hedges, and to the south is the very intimate English-style garden. Ft the center of the garden  there is a pretty small water lily pool and a fountain, named after British-U.S. playwright and author Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett. 

Burnett   wrote children’s novels including the classics Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden.

The Secret Garden  was  first published as a book in 1911, after a version was published as an American magazine serial beginning in 1910. Set in England, it is one of Burnett's most popular novels and is considered a classic of English children's literature.   The Secret Garden  is a   tale of a lonely little girl  Mary and her  friend Dickon. When orphaned Mary Lennox, lonely and sad, comes  from India to live at her uncle's great house on the Yorkshire moors, she finds it full of secrets.    She met  Dickon, a magical boy who can charm and talk to animals. Then, one day, with the help of a friendly robin, Mary discovers the most mysterious wonder of all - a secret garden, dulled and locked which has been completely forgotten for years and years.

  American sculptor Bessie Potter Vonnoh  completed her best-known large-scale work, the Frances Hodgson Burnett Memorial in Central Park in 1937 when  she was   65. It was her last work.  The children -  a girl and a boy, said to depict Mary and Dickon, the main characters from  "The Secret Garden"   book.