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Livestream Lecture | The Glory, Ruin, and Rebirth of Untermyer Gardens

Untermyer Gardens sits perched above the Hudson River on 43 acres in Yonkers.

It was built in 1917 by Samuel Untermyer, a lawyer, reformer, and human rights advocate, who desired it to be the “finest garden in the world.” The garden was famous in its heyday and in the 1920s was called the most spectacular garden in America. Thirty thousand people visited it on one day in 1939. Among the garden’s most notable features is the finest Persian garden in the Western Hemisphere, with four crisscrossing canals that symbolize the four rivers of paradise; the Vista, a breathtaking staircase leading down to an overlook with two ancient Roman columns; and the Temple of Love, a stunning and rocky temple atop dramatic cascading waterfalls. 

The lecture will examine the magnificent design of the garden, the fascinating history of Samuel and Minnie Untermyer and the story of the garden’s periods of glory, ruin and rebirth.


This virtual lecture is presented live via Zoom. The online "waiting room" opens at 6 p.m., and the lecture will begin at 6:30  p.m. Participants can submit questions via the chat feature.
Registered users will be emailed a link to join this Zoom program. To get started, please download Zoom on your chosen device and explore the Frequently Asked Questions. This program will be recorded.


Stephen F. Byrns (he/him) founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 and is its president.  A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Byrns was a founding partner of BKSK Architects, a successful architectural firm in New York City. He was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve as a Commissioner on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and served on the Board of Wave Hill.

After he established the Conservancy, Marco Polo Stufano, the retired Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill, was engaged to be the Conservancy’s horticultural advisor.  Sufficient funds were raised to hire Timothy Tilghman to be its first horticulturist in 2011 and there is currently a staff of 6 horticulturists at the garden. 

Recognition of the Conservancy’s efforts has been swift and widespread, with significant media coverage.  Byrns has received a number of national awards, including the Garden Club of America, Institute for Classical Architecture and Art, Foundation for Landscape Studies and the Victorian Society of America. 


Tune in from home to escape the cold Washington winter and immerse yourself in the stories of great American places and luscious garden estates.

Thursday, February 4 | Hollywood’s Architect: The Paul R. Williams Story Documentary & Discussion with filmmakers Royal Kennedy Rodgers and Kathy McCampbell Vance
Thursday, February 11 | The Glory, Ruin, and Rebirth of Untermyer Gardens with Stephen Byrns
Thursday, February 18 |  Filoli: From Family Home to Cultural Center with Kara Newport
Thursday, February 25 | Expanding the American Story with Brent Leggs

  • Walled garden featuring central pond at Untermeyer Gardens
    Courtesy of Stephen Byrns