Photo by Roy L. Williams.
Aldridge Gardens Veterans Arbor
Military veteran and Aldridge Gardens board member Mark Davis holds renderings for the Veterans Memorial Arbor in its future location, on the dam by the gardens’ lake.
Aldridge Gardens is preparing to build a special arbor on its lake where citizens can pay tribute to veterans who help protect the nation.
Construction on the Veterans Memorial Arbor will begin by early August and the project slated to be dedicated on Veterans Day, Wednesday, November 11, 2015.
Tynette Lynch, CEO of Aldridge Gardens, said an arbor on the dam by the gardens’ lake was a part of the original master plan. Two Aldridge Gardens board members, Mark Davis and Deb Elliott, proposed the installation of a veterans memorial arbor instead of a normal arbor.
“The Veteran’s Memorial Arbor will be a tremendous assets to our beautiful Aldridge Gardens,” Lynch said. “It is a way to honor those that have served and are still serving for our country. It also helps us to continue to grow and attract different visitors, with varied interests to Aldridge Gardens.”
The City of Hoover was one of the first financial backers to the project. Mayor Gary Ivey said the arbor will show that the city honors those who serve and those who have served “every day” and not just on Veterans Day.
“Hoover strives to develop various ways to show our support for our veterans as exemplified when you visit Veterans Park on Valleydale [Road],” the mayor said. “We are very excited that now we will have another reminder of the brave service men and women in our country at the beautiful Veterans Memorial Arbor at Aldridge Gardens, a gem in our city.”
Davis, who served in the U.S. Navy for nearly seven years beginning in 1973, has been an avid supporter of veterans causes and Aldridge Gardens for years. He leads an organization called Vettes 4 Vets, that allows people to ride in Corvettes around racetracks to raise money for veterans.
His late father, Bill Davis, was a U.S. Navy veteran who served aboard who served aboard an aircraft carrier from 1948 to 1952 in the Korean War.
“Ever since I founded Vettes 4 Vets, I have looked for ways to honor those who served and are serving,” Davis said. “This will be a quiet place to sit and reminisce about a family member or friend who has served or is serving.”
The original idea by Deb Elliot and Aldridge Gardens executive Rip Weaver proposed a wooden structure for an arbor to be erected at the dam. Davis instead proposed a metal structure that incorporates a design from the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture. The arbor will be fabricated by Robinson Iron, the company who refurbished the Vulcan statue above the city of Birmingham.
“This was a great tie back to Birmingham.” Davis said. “My idea was to find an existing metal structure or design conducive to creating an arbor. The whole [Aldridge] board is very excited. When I tell people about the arbor honoring veterans, people get excited and want to help by donating or buying a column in honor or memory of a veteran. They always ask, ‘How can I get involved?’”
Davis said the Veterans Memorial Arbor project is on a fast timetable. Aldridge Gardens planned to order the columns and arches by the end of July. Once delivered, the city of Hoover will assist in the digging of holes to create a concrete pad to mount the columns.
“We will then construct the arches and install about 3,000 feet of stainless steel cable to hold up the vines of the muscadine plants,” Davis said. “If we can raise all our arbor funds for the columns and the arches, we should be on schedule to dedicate on Veterans Day this year.”
The public can support the effort by purchasing a column, a bench or flagpole, or making a donation in memory of a service member, Davis said. Donations can range from $1 to $2,500, the cost of a column.
“You can even help just by spreading the word to let people know about our beautiful city gardens and how we our honor veterans,” Davis said.
Davis said Veterans Memorial Arbor will be a special place for all visitors, people with strong connections to the militar, and those who have lost a family member in a war.
“I look forward to the first sunrise over the arbor after we construct the columns and arches, install the American flag flown in the Iraq War and all the service flags,” Davis said. “I am honored to be able to work with so many at Aldridge Gardens who have the same passion to honor our veterans as I do.”