NYC’s Secret-est Garden Is Throwing a Decadent Summer Bash

Gussy up for a party in a lush oasis with a dark, dark past

Untermyer Garens is throwing a lavish summer soiree
Untermyer Garens is throwing a lavish summer soiree
Jessica Norman/Undermyer Gardens Conservancy

Update 7/20: Due to the heatwave expected to hit New York this weekend, the party has been proactively postponed by one week. It is now scheduled for Sunday, July 28th, from 5-10 p.m.

Some gardens grow vegetables. Others grow flowers. This one grows ghost stories.

Untermyer Gardens in Yonkers was one of the horticultural (and just at-large cultural) hotspots of ‘20s and ‘30s New York. Later, in the 1970s, it was allegedly a go-to haunt for satanic cults.

Sounds like an excellent place for a sun-drenched summer soiree, right? 

The garden’s 99-room mansion is the erstwhile home of notables like hat maven John Waring and former governor and presidential runner Samuel Tilden. In 1899, it was acquired by green thumb and civic leader Samuel Untermyer. The 150 acres soon became his prized possession and the token of his life’s work. 

(Mary McGuirk/Untermyer Gardens Conservancy)
Mary McGuirk/Untermyer Gardens Conservancy

The grounds are crawling with elaborate fountains, temples and 2,000-year-old Italian-imported Roman columns. Once a week, Untermyer would open up oasis for the public to enjoy. 

Upon Untermyer’s passing, the gardens went neglected and fell into ruin. Then, according to Megan Roberts of Atlas Obscura, “the 1970s attracted a far more sinister group of visitors.”

“Satanic groups allegedly used the wooded and overgrown grounds for moonlit gatherings, dark rites and animal sacrifice. Disturbing police reports from the late 1970s document the finding of mutilated and skinned dogs in the aqueduct south of the park, and employees working the graveyard shift at nearby St. John’s hospital tell tales of torch flames and strange chanting coming from the woods.”

Ya scared? Don’t be. In 2011, the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy was created and the gardens were reinstated to their former, less nefarious beauty. 

(Jessica Norman/Untermyer Gardens Conservancy)

And you can check them out this Sunday, July 28th, by heading over for the 3rd annual Great Forgotten Garden Party.

Once home to some of the city’s greatest artists and performers, the Gardens will celebrate their past with music (co-headlined by Brooklyn group Mr. Twin Sister and thereminist Armen Ra), art, culture and slightly off-the-wall entertainment (think water nymphs, belly dancers and something called a bug whisperer). And in keeping with the era-specific extravaganza, there’ll be heaps of libations. 

Pack a picnic, snag your partner, put an orchid in your lapel and get your tickets here. We can’t think of a better, or stranger, way to savor a Sunday summer evening. 

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