FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 17th, 2015
FRIENDS OF THE PROUTY GARDEN PETITIONS ATTORNEY GENERAL HEALEY
Effort to Preserve Historic Healing Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital Asks AG to Enforce Terms of Gift
BOSTON (Aug. 17, 2015) - Friends of the Prouty Garden, the group of individuals dedicated to the preservation of the historic garden at Boston Children’s Hospital, today announced that it has submitted an official request to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey to enforce the terms of the Olive H. Prouty Will, and related Trust obligations, and use her authority to see that the provisions of charitable gifts are obeyed.
Established by a gift from notable author Olive Higgins Prouty (1882-1974) and dedicated in 1956, the Prouty Garden has been a precious sanctuary for children who are patients, their families, and hospital staff at Boston Children’s Hospital ever since. While the hospital has admitted that the terms of the gift called for the Garden to be maintained in its present location in perpetuity, and has placed a plaque in the Garden stating so, it is moving forward with plans to demolish the Garden in order to construct a new building in its place.
“At the time that Prouty Garden was endowed by Mrs. Prouty, the Children’s Hospital CEO made a clear commitment that the garden would remain for as long as ‘Children’s Hospital has patients, families and staff to enjoy it’. This commitment is unequivocally clear,” said Gus Murby, key member of Friends of the Prouty Garden, and father of a former BCH patient. “We hope that Maura Healey, as the Attorney General, will give serious consideration to our petition and take action to preserve this important and irreplaceable healing space.”
The group is also petitioning AG Healey on the grounds that the Prouty will does not give the foundation established in the will discretion to terminate the Garden. In its Final Environmental Impact Report, BCH stated: “the Foundation has expressed a willingness to work with the Hospital’s planners and designers to incorporate the artifacts and memorabilia now within the garden… in an effort to keep the ‘spirit’ of the garden alive in its new environment.” This suggests that the President of the Foundation believes incorrectly that he has discretion under the terms of the will to redirect the trust’s assets to an alternate garden at the hospital in the event that the hospital decides to remove the Prouty Garden. The petition submitted to the AG challenges this interpretation of the provisions of the trust.
“As a former physician at Children’s, when exasperated as to how to proceed with a patient, I would take out my prescription pad and write down the following, ‘Take three walks around the Garden, then sit on a bench, look around you, and know you’re not alone.’,” said Dr. Elliott Martin, psychiatrist at Newton-Wellesley Hospital and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine. “As a medical historian, I would admonish the current leadership that there are more civilized ways to create legacies than by literally trampling upon the legacies of others.”
In 2013, Prouty Garden supporters started a public petition on Change.org that has now been signed by over 11,000 people from every state and many countries around the world beseeching the hospital to spare the beloved Prouty Garden. Accompanying those signatures are over 250 pages of personal statements attesting to the importance and healing impact of Prouty Garden over the years. Thus far, the hospital has been largely unresponsive to calls from members of the public to preserve the Prouty Garden.
About Friends of the Prouty Garden
Friends of the Prouty Garden is a concerned group of patients, families, medical staff, donors, environmentalists, historians, and community members who have come together in support of our common goal to save the Prouty Garden at Boston Children’s Hospital from demolition and to preserve it in its full integrity and in perpetuity. We fully support and agree with the hospital’s goal of developing a new clinical building. However, we urge reconsideration of alternative building sites that allow the hospital to uphold Olive Higgins Prouty’s charitable trust and will. We believe the Prouty Garden is precisely part of what makes BCH the unique entity that it is. Boston Children’s Hospital cannot afford to lose it.