Rochester, N.Y., May 19, 2015—George Eastman House has received one of the highest honors bestowed annually by The Garden Club of America (GCA), the Medal for Historic Preservation. The award, presented to the museum at the GCA’s annual meeting, held at the Rochester Convention Center, recognizes outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance.
The GCA honored Eastman House in recognition of the meticulous restoration and preservation of the historic home and gardens George Eastman, in addition to its adaptive reuse as an internationally renowned museum of photography and motion pictures. The Rochester Garden Club, a member of the GCA, nominated the Eastman House for the medal.
Landscape preservation and restoration began at Eastman House in 1984 in the west garden and continued between 1987 and 1992 in the terrace, library, and rock gardens. Landscape architect Alling Stephen DeForest’s original plans, existing historical photographs, correspondence, and invoices were used by garden historians to reconstruct the original gardens and grounds. In spring 1998, the front lawn of the house was rehabilitated to appear the way it did during George Eastman’s time, from 1916 to 1932. The rehabilitation included the planting of 21 varieties of shrubs and 29 trees, a total of seven varieties of trees that stood about 15-feet tall upon planting. The Museum, a National Historic Landmark, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta.
The 35,000-square-foot, 50-room mansion underwent a $2-million, exacting restoration in the late 1980s. Using vintage photographs and other historical evidence, more than 85 percent of the original furnishings and virtually all of the complex decorative interior were returned or restored during a three-year process. In addition, four of Eastman’s formal gardens on the 10-acre grounds have been preserved.
About the Garden Club of America Medal for Historic Preservation
The GCA Medal for Historic Preservation was first awarded in 1973 to Mr. and Mrs. John H. G. Pell in recognition of their contributions at Fort Ticonderoga. Other previous winners include individuations and organizations preserving the Biltmore Estate, Monticello, Mount Vernon, New York’s Central Park and numerous other national treasures. The medal was endowed by Erin Bain Jones (1896-1974), member of Founders Garden Club, Dallas, and Elizabeth Work Kirby (1910-2007), Jupiter Island Garden Club, Hobe Sound, Florida. The medal was designed by American sculptor Joseph Kiselewski.
About the Garden Club of America
The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 201 clubs with some 18,000 members who devote their energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States. Founded in 1913, the GCA is a leader in horticulture, conservation and civic improvement. (www.gcamerica.org)