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A Gardening Labor of Love

A year ago today, Bert Waggott passed away, surrounded by loved ones.  Bert was a long-time Greenwich Village resident, graphic designer and professor of graphic design at Pratt Institute.   Bert accepted our Village Award in June of 2013 for his work in the Winston Churchill Square garden.7. These asiatic lilies were transplanted from Washington Square Park

Anyone who has walked by the small but lush little park located where Bleecker Street meets Sixth Avenue has noticed it’s charm.  This park was made beautiful through the hard work of some very dedicated volunteers, spearheaded by Bert.

Never happier than when his hands were in soil, Bert took care of the Square as a volunteer with Partnerships for Parks, a group that has given generously to the Square, including support for the planting shed tucked away in the garden.

From the brochure for volunteers.
From the brochure for volunteers.

Bert devoted countless hours to the park. You could often see Bert pushing his wheelbarrow along Bleecker Street on his way to the garden.

Bert left us with the beautiful legacy of the vast improvements to the green public space that he loved so much. Winston Churchill Square is a quiet and peaceful spot that makes you forget you’re surrounded by traffic and noise, and is greatly valued by neighbors and the local community.

Winston Churchill Square was named by a previous Parks Commissioner based solely upon its proximity to an apartment building with the address 10 Downing Street.  Other than that, Winston Churchill has no connection to the park at all.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and many local residents and stakeholders have written letters in support of a proposal to re-name this modest green space in recognition of Bert’s devotion.  If you want to get involved in joining the volunteers at the garden, email garden stewards Curtis Borg and Rosemary Bella here.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful tbertwaggotpfpbrochuresnippeto have the park named not only for a longtime and devoted steward, but for someone with an actual connection to the neighborhood.

There is a new prime minister in Downing Square, maybe it is time for a new name to honor a long time resident who labored long to make this corner of Greenwich Village so beautiful.

Photo from 1927 shows destruction along path of 6th Avenue IND subway extension below Carmine Street and intersecting Downing and Bleecker Streets.

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