Prospect Park’s colorful Concert Grove Pavilion with star-shaped stained-glass skylight reopens

April 8, 2021

Photos by Paul Martinka for the Prospect Park Alliance

After being closed to the public for nearly seven years, the historic Concert Grove Pavilion in Prospect Park reopened this week following a restoration. Designed in 1874 by Calvert Vaux, who co-designed the Brooklyn park with Frederick Law Olmsted, the stunning structure features colorfully painted wood ceilings and iron columns, ornate wooden trim, and a star-patterned stained-glass dome.

The 19th-century pavilion draws on “Hindu, Chinese, Moorish, and Egyptian motifs”, a popular design trend at the time, according to the Prospect Park Alliance, which oversaw the $2 million restoration along with NYC Parks.

Located in the southeast section of the park next to the LeFrak Center and facing Prospect Park Lake, the structure was nearly destroyed by a fire in 1974. Its iron columns were saved and the pavilion last underwent a restoration in 1988. It closed to the public in 2014 because of structural damage.

The restoration included the reconstruction of missing historical elements, like wood trim, moldings, and stainless-steel shingles on the roof. According to the Alliance, iron railings and roof ornaments were recast and repaired at an iron foundry in Alabama that specializes in historical restoration.

The original colors of the ceilings and iron columns were matched, new lighting was added to highlight the stained glass ceiling in the dome, and a waterproofing system to prevent water damage.

“The Concert Grove Pavilion is a key piece of the identity of Prospect Park; as it serves as a venue for enjoying concerts, celebrating special occasions, and so much more,” NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, said. “Through the support of Prospect Park Alliance, former Speaker Melissa Viverito, and the City Council this historic structure has been revitalized for an entirely new generation to enjoy and explore.”

Image courtesy of the Prospect Park Archives

The Concert Grove section of the park was originally designed as a place for musical performances and was home to the Concert Grove House, a restaurant and comfort house, and the Concert Grove Pavilion, a tea house formerly known as the Oriental Pavilion because of its design. In the 1950s, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses demolished the restaurant and converted the pavilion into a snack bar, according to Prospect Park Alliance archives.

Today, the space is available to reserve for small parties and events, but a permit is required for functions with more than 20 people.

Last year, park-goers gained another historic gem to enjoy when the 1860s Endale Arch reopened. The $500,000 project restored the interior of the arch and the exterior stonework. After removing layers of paint and grit, the restoration team discovered original 150-year-old details, including a brick and granite cross vault that they were able to incorporate. LED lights were added to illuminate the stunning restored interior.

The city last fall unveiled plans to renovate Grand Army Plaza, the entrance to Prospect Park, by replacing the arch’s roof, cleaning and restoring the brick and stone structure, repairing the interior staircases, and adding new lighting to the exterior.


All photos by Paul Martinka for the Prospect Park Alliance unless otherwise noted

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