Esplanade Receives $1 Million Grant from Anonymous Donor

A gift from the 'Esplanade angel' will help the historic green space bloom.

Photo courtesy Esplanade Association

Photo courtesy Esplanade Association

The Esplanade Association received a $1 million challenge grant last week to help continue restoration of the historic green space, just in time for spring weather.

The donation–made in memory of Frances W. Hatch Jr. by a longtime Boston resident who asked to remain anonymous–is a challenge grant spread across four years. Of each annual gift, $150,000 will be a matching gift challenge, aimed at attracting donors to the organization.

“We like to call the person our Esplanade angel,” says executive director Tani Marinovich. “It had been done once before four years ago, they were pleased and wanted to continue with the work.”

The grant will help fund a number of projects sprucing up the area along the Charles River, including restoration of the Lotta Fountain and Fiedler Field, a park and pathways safety initiative, and horticultural upkeep to replace the plants that died during the winter. Completing these projects is a daunting task, made even trickier by a statewide budget crunch.

“For some reason, the DCR budget, which manages the park, is the first budget to be reduced,” says Marinovich. “It’s taken a toll on the park.”

Luckily, the small, privately funded organization has received a record amount of volunteer work to help offset costs. Cambridge Landscaping, for example, donated an estimated $30,000 in services last week, pruning 54 trees and clearing dense canopy along Storrow Drive. “It’s made a magnitude of difference,” says Marinovich. “We are so fortunate that we have donors who inspire us with their generosity.”

The Esplanade Association is wrapping up its restoration of the Hatch Shell Oval Lawn, which it says will be ready to go for the Fourth of July.