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City officials plant trees as part of Barnsdall Park olive grove restoration

Olive trees planted in Barnsdall Park in hopes of returning grove to former glory
Olive trees planted in Barnsdall Park in hopes of returning grove to former glory 01:05

In an effort to return Barnsdall Park and its once historic olive grove to its former glory, 40 olive trees were planted Thursday morning, joining the more than 450 like trees already planted in the area. 

At one time, the olive grove housed more than 1,200 trees, and was used as a commercial orchard, prior to its purchase by Aline Barnsdall, an oil heiress and philanthropist. 

"We're planting 40 Wilsonii olive trees today to fill in the gaps in the original olive grove that has been here since the 1890s. So this is a spectacular project for us, for the people of Los Angeles, and it's going to just provide so many benefits to Hollywood. We're right in the middle of a very dense urban area and these trees are going to be a benefit for generations to come," said Carolyn Ramsay, the Director of the Los Angeles Parks Foundation. 

Before the purchase, the area was known as "Olive Hill."

The 11.5-acre East Hollywood park was donated by Barnsdall as an effort to pay tribute to her father. Since, it has been transformed into a public park, which includes both the UNESCO World Heritage Site and Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock House -- which Barnsdall commissioned Wright to build for her in the 1920s. After her death, the large property was divided into residential and commercial parcels of land.

Efforts to restore the olive grove, led by Barnsdall Art Park Foundation, were continued in 2021 -- the 100th anniversary of Hollyhock House's completion -- as a fundraiser engineered to improve the park's landscape was started. 

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, whose 13th District oversees East Hollywood is openly supportive of the project, noting that the city "really needs more greenery and more green space."

"Restoring the entire campus is important and the olive grove is part and parcel of the importance of this incredible cultural landmark that is Barnsdall Park," he said.

In all, about $25,000 worth of funds were donated to L.A.'s Adopt-a-Park program by the foundation to help pay for the development of the new trees and the existing 400+ trees in the park.

More funds were also raised to plant olive trees in alternate areas in L.A. through the Los Angeles Park Forest Program. 

This is the 11th project to operate through the program, whose goal is to plant 100 park forests throughout the City of Los Angeles by 2030.

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