Annual Letter to Members, 2022

Dear Friends of Hemlock Gorge:

 As Covid-19 relented a bit, 2022 was a good year for both Hemlock Gorge and the Friends of Hemlock Gorge. The park continued to be visited by many families, new visitors, and old friends.

 Visitors have visited our website, signed on to become members at Upper Falls Village Day and our cleanups, and contributed to our treasury. The Friends’ leadership credits you, our members, whose efforts have made the park such an important part of our local environment. We all continued to enjoy the repaired Ellis Street Stairway and the sidewalk in front of the Stone Building that were among our accomplishments in 2021.

 Below is the list of the highlights of 2022 (all of which can be found with more details at our website

 With nearly all active members of the Friends now vaccinated and boosted, we got together for lunch after both the spring and fall cleanups.

We also had a couple of hybrid in person and Zoom meetings. For the in-person part of the meeting we were given access to the Waban Library Center, which has Wi-Fi for the Zoom and is free of the fees. Unfortunately, continuing concern with Covid-19 and scheduling issues for many people led us to return to Zoom-only meetings. We plan to revisit the possibility for hybrid meetings in 2023, depending on the sentiment of meeting participants. We also voted to continue meeting on the first Tuesday of the month.

At our summer picnic in August, we had our long-delayed dedication ceremony to celebrate the repair of the roof of the Stone Building at was finished in 2020. We were able to recognize the efforts of State Representative Ruth Balser who secured the funding needed to rescue this historic treasure. We presented her with one of Evan Weststrate’s framed portraits of

We were also pleased that Rep. Balser was able to use an additional state appropriation of $75,000 to have a team of architects, engineers, and historians to evaluate repairs necessary to preserve the structural and historic integrity of the Stone Building. The report confirmed our concerns and went much further, identifying all areas of concern, providing a remarkably detailed history or the building, and a prioritized set of recommendations to restore the building. It is a remarkably complete and thorough document. To read the PDF of the report, just visit our website. The estimated cost for Phase 1 of the restoration project is likely to be covered by yet another appropriation of $250,000 earmarked for the Stone Building that was secured through the efforts of Rep. Balser. She is now spearheading the effort the get the repairs on the DCR’s agenda

Another accomplishment this year was the installation of crosswalks and a sidewalk under Route 9 to improve safety for pedestrians walking between Hemlock Gorge and the downstream Quinobequin Trail at the intersection of Quinobequin Road and Ellis Street. In addition, a break was installed in the guardrail on Quinobequin Road to provide easier access to the Quinobequin Trail downstream of Hemlock Gorge. Again, all this again came about through the efforts of State Representative Ruth Balser who acted on initiatives of the Friends to make them a reality and organized for us a joint meeting of representatives of the Department of Transportation, the DCR, and the City of Newton.

Another noteworthy accomplishment in 2022 was the signing of an agreement to “charter” Scout Troop 205, previously chartered by Sacred Heart Church. Paul Roberts, emeritus scoutmaster of the Troop, is the Friend’s representative to the Troop. We looked forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with the scouts, who, as shown in the photo, participated enthusiastically in the spring cleanup. We have also agreed to sponsor two Eagle Scout Project in the Park, one to repair broken box steps on the steep trail and another to repair and repaint the wooded fence on Ellis Street.

Another piece of good news was the long-awaited installation of two benches for the weary, one at the Stone Building and the other near the Echo Platform. The Friends, spearheaded by Evan Westrate, worked together with DCR Site Supervisor Erica Aubin, brought this project to completion on July 26. They were hewn by DCR staff from a huge tree that was toppled on DCR land. They are smooth and lacquered. The Friends plan to install arm and backrests in the coming year.

In 2022 we had two successful clean-ups, in April and October. They were well attended and have helped keep the park in pristine condition and make it attractive for all many visitors. 

In October we also participated in Newton Upper Falls Village Day. We had table and successfully recruited. The photo shows Evan and his dog manning our table.

In addition to recognizing the efforts of Rep. Balser, we also want to recognize the support of city Counselors Andreae Downs and Bill Humphrey and Site Supervisor Erica Aubin

Next year the Friends of Hemlock Gorge will continue our annual activities and support new projects. Major goals for 2023 that need your support include:

  • Installing back and arm rests on the two benches we have had installed at the Stone Building and Echo Platform.
  • Working to eliminate invasive plants in the Gorge.
  • Continuing our traditions of a summer picnic and holiday celebration
  • Maintaining and modernizing our website

To do this and more, we need your help and financial support to build on our success.  

  • Our spring and fall cleanups need your participation.  
  • Visit our web site at or visit us on Facebook to stay informed.
  • Attend our monthly meetings on the first Tuesday of the month. These are announced by email and include a Zoom link.

To contribute easily, you can do so by PayPal at our website, If you contribute at the $25 or higher level, we will send you one of the four posters Evan has created. To do this and select your poster, visit

You can also mail your contribution to our P.O. Box 62, Waban MA 02468.

Thank you for all you have done for Hemlock Gorge Reservation in 2022 and for supporting us in 2023. We look forward to seeing you at our monthly meetings and other events.

John Mordes, MD                                   Evan Weststrate

President                                                Vice-President