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Samuel Untermyer: Forgotten Hero

Friday, May 6, 2022, 12:00–1:15 pm


Stephen F. Byrns, president and founder of the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy, will share a rich and riveting lecture titled Samuel Untermyer: Forgotten Hero. Samuel Untermyer (1858-1940) was one of the most prominent members of the community of German-Jewish elite in America. As president of the Non-Sectarian Anti-Nazi League until 1938, he was called “Hitler’s Bitterest Foe” by the British press. A brilliant lawyer and investor, he was also a leading progressive figure in the last thirty years of his life. He married his Christian wife Minnie in 1883 at Ahawath Chesed, now Central Synagogue.

This program will be presented on Zoom at noon on Friday, May 6th. Members – check your email for registration information.


Stephen F. Byrns founded the Untermyer Gardens Conservancy in 2011 and is its president.  A graduate of Princeton and Columbia Universities, Byrns was a founding partner of BKSK Architects, a successful architectural firm in New York City that was established in 1985.

Byrns was appointed by Mayor Bloomberg to serve as a Landmarks Preservation Commissioner on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission from 2004-10.  He served on the Board of Wave Hill from 2000-2010.

Byrns lived in Yonkers in the 1990’s, when he discovered Untermyer Park and Gardens.  He revisited it in 2010 when told that the fountains had been turned on after decades of disuse.  The more he learned about Samuel Untermyer’s garden, the more he was convinced that a conservancy should be established to work with the City of Yonkers to make it once again one of the greatest gardens in America.

A Board of Directors was established, and Marco Polo Stufano, the retired founding Director of Horticulture at Wave Hill, was engaged to be the Conservancy’s horticultural advisor.  Sufficient funds were raised to hire Timothy Tilghman to be its first horticulturist in 2011 and there is currently a staff of 7 horticulturists at the garden. Byrns started full-time work at the Conservancy in early 2016.

Recognition of the Conservancy’s efforts has been swift and widespread, with significant coverage from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Martha Stewart Living, Elle Decor and other publications.  National awards have been presented, including the Garden Club of America, Institute for Classical Architecture and Art, Foundation for Landscape Studies and the Victorian Society of America. The gardens are once again a showplace and are attracting people from near and far.

Its website is