How one designer is making a difference

Barbara Connolly

COGdesign’s mission is to provide excellent landscape design to underserved communities. Barbara Connolly’s work for COGdesign has been an outstanding model of service and design excellence

Barbara Connolly applied to COGdesign to design New Bedford’s Abolition Plaza, a site on a vacant lot in an urban, mixed-income neighborhood. The project’s goal is to honor New Bedford’s rich history of interracial cooperation in the fight to end slavery; the site lies across the street from the Nathan and Polly Johnson House, where Frederick Douglas lived when he first escaped slavery.

Barbara worked with fellow COGdesign volunteer Heather Heimarck, the New Bedford Historical Society, and the city of New Bedford to create a plaza that would serve as a gathering place for public events and for school groups coming to visit the Johnson House, reflect the interwoven history of free African-Americans, Quaker abolitionists, and escaped slaves, and serve the neighborhood’s needs for a park. Connolly and Heimarck’s draft design features a border of cherry trees–a very popular part of New Bedford’s springtime blooms– and a paving pattern that features intertwined paths.  The City of New Bedford plans to hold hearings on the park plan in late January.

Barbara came to COGdesign with substantial experience. Founder and president of Gardens by Barbara Connolly, Inc., Barbara has worked with all aspects of designing, installing, and managing sustainable landscapes in and around Cape Cod, and managed landscape design, horticulture,  and business development at Greenscape, Inc., Taunton, MA, and the Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham. Barbara also has worked extensively with public institutions. She earned an MPS in Public Garden Leadership from Cornell University, and has spent time at the Naples Botanical Garden, Naples, FL, Cornell Plantations, Ithaca, NY, and the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. This is her first project for COGdesign.

Draft Plan for Abolitionist Plaza by Barbara Connolly and Heather Heimarck


Draft master plan for the entire site (click to enlarge) / Connolly and Heimarck