Forsyth Park has been called the Crown Jewel of Savannah. Established in 1841, it is one of the oldest municipal parks in the country, even older than Central Park in New York. Trustees' Garden Club has a long history of participation in the Park’s beautification.
Trustees’ Garden Club has a decades long history of sponsoring and directly participating in improvements to Forsyth Park. In 2012, the club restored the Fragrant Garden located inside of the western dummy fort in the center of the park. Since that time, Club members volunteer each month to work side by side with City staff to tend the garden. Other contributions to the park over the years include landscaping the playground areas and funding the addition of brick walkways and benches in the area of the two dummy forts.
In 2015, in order to protect and preserve this priceless asset for generations to come, Trustees’ Garden Club in partnership with the City of Savannah, initiated a multi-year project to develop a Stewardship Plan for the park. The plan has three phases, development of a comprehensive Master Plan (completed in 2021), applying to the National Park Service for recognition of the park as a National Historic Landmark (on-going), and establishing a park conservancy to raise private funding to pay for projects in the park as determined in the master plan (on-going). This effort is called the Forsyth Park Project. The expense of the project is fully underwritten by Trustees’ Garden Club along with the generous support of civic partners.
The comprehensive Master Plan for the park was completed in 2021. Rooted in 11 months of community engagement, more than 4,500 completed surveys, and hundreds of written comments, the plan is a direct result of feedback from the community, local collaborators and subject matter experts regarding the park’s use, design, and amenities. Preservation of the park’s tree canopy, open green space, and historic integrity were the top priorities when designing the plan. Link to home page of FOF site.
Nominating Forsyth Park as a National Historic Landmark is an important phase of the Forsyth Park Project. After a thorough RFP process in the Spring of 2023, the Club hired New South Associates https://newsouthassoc.com to conduct the necessary research to write and submit a Letter of Inquiry to the National Park Service, the first step in applying for a historic designation. New South has done extensive work in Savannah including the Integrity and Condition Assessment of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District published in 2018. Link to About section of FOF website.
In 2018, Trustees’ Garden Club was awarded a Restoration Initiative Grant by The Garden Club of America (GCA) to replace trees lost in Forsyth Park due to hurricane damage. Because the master planning process was still underway, the Club postponed the project until the plan was completed. In addition to a complete survey of all existing trees in the park, the final plan includes location and species recommendations for tree replacement.
In December, 2022 Trustees’ members attended the Savannah City Council meeting to present the $10,000 Restoration Grant to the Mayor and City Council. The Savannah Park and Tree Department finalized the planting plan in February of 2023 and City staff and club members worked together to plant the trees, restoring the tree canopy that had been lost.
Trustees' Garden Club members present GCA Restoration Initiative funds to the City of Savannah