Pick up a copy of the BSLA Field Book HOME issue!
We are happy to help celebrate Lynn Wolff’s legacy and Women’s Lunch Place on Newbury Street in Boston by sharing an article written by Offshoots’ Kate Kennen and Nelle Ward that was published in the HOME issue of the BSLA Field Book! Below is a copy of the full text!
A Moment of Nourishment
BSLA Field Book Article – HOME | By Kate Kennen & Nelle Ward, Offshoots, Inc.
There are few people who inspire a team of designers to come together to create a living landscape to celebrate their memory; Lynn Wolf is one of them. Lynn Wolff was a wonder to those who knew her. She was an accomplished landscape architect and a philanthropist in her personal life. Wolff emanated charisma, creativity, and positivity, filling rooms with joy and laughter wherever she went. As principal of Copley Wolff Design Group in Boston, the landscape architecture firm she cofounded, Wolff’s professional work exhibited beauty, color, and a deep understanding of human needs. As president of the BSLA and commissioner of the Boston Civic Design Commission, she was an inspiration and mentor to myriad design professionals. Wolff was also a dedicated volunteer for Women’s Lunch Place (WLP), a unique daytime shelter and advocacy center for women experiencing hunger, homelessness, and poverty. Lynn’s generosity and joyful demeanor touched the lives of many.
When Wolff passed away, the BSLA, Deneen Crosby and Sean Sanger spearheaded a fund to create a memorial garden for her. Wolff’s and WLP’s shared values of generosity and community building made the shelter the perfect recipient. With the help of a dedicated team, the Lynn Wolff Memorial Garden at the Women’s Lunch Place became a reality in 2018. Situated in front of the Church of the Covenant (a space the church generously and previously planted and maintained by Ellen Abdow), Matthew Cunningham Associates designed the bones for the garden, taking it through several iterations and the historic permitting process. Crosby & Sanger communicated with WLP, kept the project on track, and solicited donations from vendors. Fleming Brothers donated significant repairs to the entry, stairs, railings, and benches, and Landscape Forms donated planters. The Offshoots horticultural installation team built the garden and continues to maintain it with fresh seasonal additions and change-outs.
Lynn arranged flowers at Women’s Lunch Place every Wednesday for years; her committed generosity aligns with the shelter’s values. WLP offers a vast range of vital resources for houseless women at no cost, such as nutritious meals, free medical care, individualized advocacy services, and job seeking assistance. Staff and volunteers form long-term, meaningful relationships with their guests. The shelter is a refuge with a garden, providing a place that feels like home for our city’s most vulnerable population.
The Lynn Wolff Memorial Garden is filled with vibrant colors, a vegetable and herb garden, pockets of ornamental flowering trees and shrubs, and seasonal containers. The garden’s produce supports WLP’s kitchen via providing herbs and vegetables that are harvested by staff and volunteers and then used in scratch-made meals. The Garden not only provides nourishment for the houseless women, but beckons moments of learning and exploring, and colorfully reflects seasonal change year-round. The Garden offers an outdoor respite, source of food, cheerful pops of color (that Lynn would have loved) and a delightful moment of verdant vibrance in the cityscape.
Lynn Wolff’s life work and the generosity she instilled in those close to her, inspired a truly collaborative project which exemplifies the possibility of landscape design to have a deep and meaningful impact on people’s lives. Her legacy lives on, flourishing in the form of a garden providing physical and spiritual nourishment to those who engage with it. Whether it be a glimpse from the street, a rest on a bench, or harvesting aromatic herbs, interaction with the garden extends a rare invitation to receive from and to exchange with landscape. We have Lynn Wolff and Women’s Lunch Place to thank for inspiring the creation of a living gift that continues to give; a garden that embodies reciprocity, connection, nourishment and belonging.
Henry Morris – Communications & Marketing Manager for Women’s Lunch Place