A Delightfully Striped Interior Returns to Prospect Park’s Endale Arch

Photo by Susan De Vries

    by

    A rainy day in Prospect Park last week was enlivened by the unveiling of the glowing, restored interior of the Endale Arch. Pristine strips of black walnut and white pine now stretch through the 19th century span, surrounding pedestrians with pattern and natural materials as the designers originally intended.

    Barricaded to park visitors while a restoration by the Prospect Park Alliance Design and Construction team and Barnhart Restoration was underway, the completion of the project also returns another sheltered space to visitor use at a time when park use has boomed.

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    A circa 1867 lithograph of the Endale Arch. Image via Annual Reports of the Brooklyn Park Commissioners, 1861-1873

    endale arch prospect park

    Weekend visitors admiring the finished restoration

    Originally completed in 1868, years of graffiti and grime took their toll on the interior, obscuring the intent of designer Calvert Vaux and assistant architect Edward C. Miller. Removal of paint layers, restoration of surviving materials and the installation of new wood brought their vision back to life. New strips of LED lights in the peak add discrete illumination and an extra 21st century shimmer.

    Endale, also known early on as Enterdale, was intended to provide a safe walkway for pedestrians to the Long Meadow. Pedestrians were intended to leave the city behind as they entered the northern entrance to the park and to wander through a dim, peaceful passageway towards the bucolic dale that awaited them beyond. Carriages would rumble past above, out of the way of pedestrians and with passengers unaware of the tunnel beneath them.

    Despite wanting park features to blend in, rather than distract, from the natural beauty of the landscape, the design for Endale packed more than a bit of a punch, with alternating blocks of brownstone and sandstone on the exterior and a vaulted interior lined with wood.

    restoration of endale arch

    At left, restoration in process on original woodwork in one of the niches. At right, the finished restoration

    The exterior stone was given a light cleaning as part of the restoration project — to get a true sense of the original contrast in the stone colors check out a few stones on the north end that were given a deeper, and labor intensive, test clean.

    The starkest before and after is on the interior. Most of the woodwork had deteriorated or disappeared, but it still survived in two of the four seating niches that line the interior. The woodwork was restored in those while the granite and brick structure was exposed in the remaining niches as a testament to the original craftsmanship involved in the construction. The rest of the interior was lined with new wood.

    endale arch restoration

    A decorative detail before removal of the all of the paint layers

    endale arch interior

    A decorative detail after the removal of paint layers

    While the restoration efforts removed layers of old green anti graffiti paint, they didn’t leave all that new wood unprotected. It’s so smooth to the touch that it is almost impossible to tell, but layers of anti graffiti coating were applied to the interior.

    Yet to come in the interior are benches, which may return in the future. They likely won’t be reproductions. The originals were removed by the 1930s and no sketches or photographs showing clear design details have emerged as of yet.

    endale arch interior

    Visitors check out the exposed granite

    Rain poured down on the day of the official unveiling, but the skies were obligingly clear for the span’s weekend debut. A bright Saturday filled the park with Brooklynites amazed to be able to wander through, with exclamations of “wow” echoing through the space as visitors couldn’t resist the urge to touch the new wood. There was even an enthusiastic shout of “yeah, participatory budgeting!” heard, a nod to the combination of public and private funding that made the $500,000 project possible.

    While the Endale Arch is the latest to be unveiled in the park, work continues on the Concert Grove Pavilion, another Vaux designed structure. Work on that 1870s shelter should be completed in early 2021.

    endale arch restoration

    The new LED lights switched on during the unveiling

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    Stone on the north end of the arch after a deep cleaning

    endale arch prospect park

    [Photos by Susan De Vries unless noted otherwise]

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