Magnolia Earth Tree Center faces risk of closure

Magnolia Earth Tree Center says it owes nearly a half-million dollars to the Department of Buildings.

News 12 Staff

Feb 10, 2023, 11:12 PM

Updated 473 days ago

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The Magnolia Earth Tree Center in Brooklyn has stood its ground since the early 1970s but faces a risk of shutting down if it can’t fundraise enough money for repairs.  
The landmark represents a fight to save a magnolia tree that took place in Bed-Stuy nearly 50 years ago. The center has been teaching Brooklyn residents how to care for green spaces and the environment, starting with a woman named Hattie Carthan in the 1960s.  
“[Hattie] saw the tree was about to get knocked down, she saw the buildings were about to get knocked down so that a developer could take them over,” said Wayne Devonish, chairman of the board of directors for the Magnolia Earth Tree Center. “She said no, you’re not gonna knock down the tree.” 
The center has called Lafayette Avenue home for nearly five decades, but the future for it is now uncertain. The center sits in an old brownstone that Devonish says requires lots of upkeep. The center started renovations in the spring of 2020 after fundraising efforts, but that construction became problematic with the pandemic.  
"We unfortunately happened to pick the wrong contractor. He was able to get his landmarks permit, but he was not able to get his Buildings Department permit,” said Devonish. “He just kept working, even though the Buildings Department was stopping him… fines kept increasing and now here we are, owing about half a million dollars in fines to the Buildings Department.” 
If the Magnolia Earth Tree Center does not raise the $350,000 it needs, the center will be forced to close its doors.  
If you are interested in contributing to save this Brooklyn landmark, click here


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