Press "Enter" to skip to content

Jefferson Market Library and Garden combo benefit rakes in green

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | The inaugural Blooms and Books benefit raised healthy bucks for both the Jefferson Market Library and Jefferson Market Garden.

Supported by local businesses and residents, and helped by the star power of Sarah Jessica Parker, the April 30 event was successful despite the rainy weekend. The money will be split — half for the library, half for the garden — going to fund special community programs at both.

Elizabeth Butson chaired the event.
Elizabeth Butson chaired the event. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Councilmember Erik Bottcher talked with Liz Thomson, founder of The Village Trip Festival. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Guests at the garden/library benefit fittingly wore floral-print and colorful dresses. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)

The crowd mingled on the library’s second floor, enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres as a jazz band played overhead on a footbridge spanning the spacious room. The plan had been for an outdoor shindig, but the weather didn’t cooperate.

Some historical figures dropped by the festivities, including Mae West. The saucy actress was hauled into the historic building in 1926 when it was a courthouse, after authorities accused her Broadway show “Sex” of “obscene exhibition.” West was fined $500 and sentenced to 10 days mopping the floors on Welfare Island.

Andy Warhol and Mae West. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Eric Leichtung painted a canvas of the garden that was auctioned at the event. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Zac Walker was a board member for the event. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Also making the soiree was Lois Rakoff, a Community Board 2 member and the community director N.Y.U.’s Poe Room. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)

Andy Warhol also made the scene, snapping photos of the benefit’s beautiful people, meaning all of them. His connection to the library was that Valerie Solanas, the man-hating author of the “SCUM Manifesto,” shot and nearly killed the Pop Art icon in 1968, after which she was held at the Women’s House of Detention, which formerly sat on the garden’s property.

Also at the benefit, Edgar Allan Poe, who used to live nearby on W. Third Street, held court down in the basement amid the space’s red-brick archways. Poe was actually Campbell Harmon, a historical reenactor, who recited Poe’s entire lengthy poem “The Raven.”

“I hope that house is being taken good care of by the current owners,” he said. Actually, N.Y.U. demolished the structure two decades ago for a new law school building, though did create a facsimile exterior; Poe-themed events are occasionally held there.

Frank Collerius, the library’s branch manager, and Susan Sipos, the garden’s horticulturist and landscaper. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Quoth the Raven: “A smashing fundraiser!” (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Guests at the Blooms and Books benefit. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)

Parker was unfortunately unable to make the actual event. But actor John Leguizamo and many of his family members were there. His new TV miniseries, “Leguizamo Does America,” had just recently launched. Writer Calvin Trillin also attended.

The evening was spearheaded by Elizabeth Butson, the garden’s chairperson. She, fittingly, proclaimed it a huge success.

John Leguizamo, left, and family members, including his mother, Luz, right, at the benefit. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
John Leguizamo and Elizabeth Butson. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
Erika Sumner of the Washington Square Association and Elizabeth Butson. (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)

Part of the haul included a painting of the garden by Eric Leichtung that was raffled for $900, plus $3,000 in other raffle tickets. Raffle items included a private tour of the library’s tower, a designer necklace and a Citarella gift basket.

“This was really a great community effort — I would say, ‘community response’ to the library and the garden,” Butson said afterward. “The garden and library have had a great relationship historically and currently. So we really felt that our annual fundraiser, the profits would be split between the library and garden. And it’s important that they be able to flourish for the next generation to come. This event showed the worth. People came out, even on a rainy Sunday.”

Wine, food and flowers for the event were all donated.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.