Attendees to a reception during Kingwood Center Gardens’ Garden Discovery Days were on hand to discover something new and exciting.

Speaking from the second floor staircase landing in Kingwood Hall on Friday evening, Kingwood Center Gardens Board Chairperson Duffy Carto made an extraordinary announcement.

Carto began by reviewing the creation of a master plan for Kingwood, which was released in 2014. The effort was part of a process of transformation to “fulfill the expectations of the people who love Kingwood so much, not just the people from Mansfield, but the people all over the country and even the world who have come to know Kingwood,”

The “keystone” of that plan was a visitors center. Such a center, Carto added, would serve the following roles among others:

  • Make Kingwood more customer-friendly
  • Provide a portal and elegant entrance to the grounds
  • Provide an orientation point, as well as a focal point for staff and volunteers
  • Serve as an information center and location for plant sales
  • Provide restrooms, exhibit space, offices, as well as reception and education spaces.
  • Serve as a cultural and information center ro the Mansfield community

All of this, he said, would fulfill the original vision of Charles Kelly King, who gifted the mansion and grounds to the community.

To this end, the Board initiated the first capital campaign in the facility’s history, a campaign which generated an extraordinary gift. Carto announced that in late 2016, local business leader and philanthropist Richard “Dick” Taylor presented Kingwood Center Gardens with a check for 3 million dollars, thereby making the visitors center dream a reality. Taylor passed away a month later at the age of 100.

Taylor family members were present for the announcement, and son Mark Taylor also spoke to those gathered.

A series of scenic photos taken by 1812Blockhouse at Kingwood Center Gardens last summer can be accessed at this location online.

Photo: 1812Blockhouse

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