Restoration

Restoration of the Kinderberg and Renovation of the Chess & Checkers House

Our restoration of this historic site will focus on renovating the Chess & Checkers House, ensuring the building and its surrounding landscape are accessible to modern Park users while maintaining the spirit of the area’s original purpose and design.

The Children's District is the historic name of an area near the southeast corner of Central Park, north of the Pond at 59th Street and south of the 65th Street Transverse, between the Center Drive and the East Drive. Conveniently sited to welcome visitors immediately upon their arrival to the Park, it offered facilities catering to the needs of small children and their caregivers, including the Dairy refreshment house and the Children’s Cottage (a changing and restroom facility). Most significant of these was the Kinderberg, also referred to as the Children’s Shelter or the Nursery. Completed in 1868, it was a character-defining feature of the Children’s District and the largest, most elaborate of several rustic shelters located at high points in the Park landscape. Sited on a large outcropping of rock overlooking the Pond, the Kinderberg offered shade, seating, and tables for mothers and children to rest, picnic, and play games.

The Kinderberg was razed in the 1940s, and in 1952, the existing Chess & Checkers House was constructed on the site. The octagonal brick structure was originally open on four sides and functioned as an open-air pavilion. By the 1980s, doors and windows were added to fully enclose the structure. The existing dimensional lumber trellis on the plaza surrounding the building was added in 1985.

Artists rendering of the Kinderberg elevation and Chess and Checkers building

This project will restore the Kinderberg site while maintaining the historic purpose and design of the Park.

Existing Conditions

The last significant project at the site was a restoration of the building exterior and addition of the existing trellis in 1985. The trellis has reached the end of its useful life, and the pavement beneath shows signs of significant settling and deterioration. The building roof has not been replaced since the original construction in 1952. The stairs and steeply sloped path leading up to the facility are not accessible. Finally, there are no longer public restrooms in the Children’s District to support the public programs run out of the Chess & Checkers House or activities at the Dairy, the Conservancy’s main visitor center and gift shop.

Project Objectives

The project is a continuation of the restoration of the Children’s District that began with the Conservancy’s recently completed restoration of the Dairy. Objectives include:

  • Restore the Kinderberg site in keeping with the historic purpose and design of the Park and to serve the needs of contemporary Park users
  • Address the condition of the Chess & Checkers House
  • Provide restroom facilities for visitors to the Children’s District
  • Address the accessibility of the facility
Rendering of the Chess and Checkers building

The restoration will include recreating a rustic shelter, based on the original Kinderberg structure.

Site Work

  • Recreate a rustic shelter, based on the original Kinderberg structure, encompassing the existing Chess & Checkers House
  • Replace existing asphalt hexagonal pavers in-kind
  • Construct an ADA-accessible ramp to the facility on the slope on the east side of the Kinderberg, adjacent to the existing stairs
  • Restore the existing stairs and add handrails

Building

  • Restore the exterior of the Chess & Checkers House
  • Replace the roof, cupola, windows, and doors in-kind
  • Renovate the interior of the Chess & Checkers house to include public restrooms as well as space to support public programs
  • Upgrade existing mechanical and utility systems

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