Baisley Pond Park

Mother Carter Garden

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Laura “Mother” Carter (1914-1999) was a champion of rights for women and children, a devoted member of her church, and a community leader in Jamaica, Queens. Mother Carter adopted the park surrounding this garden as her own, encouraging neighborhood children to volunteer, and planning events throughout the year to bring locals to this sprawling greenspace.

Mother Carter’s commitment to the neighborhood did not end at Baisley Pond Park, however. Diminutive in stature but great in personality and political savvy, she wrote letters to city council members in support of anti-drug laws, and in favor of community events for Baisley. Carter not only penned these notes for change, but she also worked within her own action groups. She was the founder of “Adults and Youth for a Better Baisley Park” and planted the first Christmas tree on the property.

Laura Carter was born in Hawkinsville, Georgia in 1914. She received formal education in local public schools and became involved with the Baptist church at an early age. After marrying Willie Carter in Miami, Florida on July 15, 1940, she and her husband relocated to this neighborhood in the late 1940s. Mother Carter continued her church involvement in Jamaica, joining the nearby Rush Temple AME Zion Church in 1970, where she served as a deaconess, missionary, food pantry and hotline worker, and life member of the Women’s Home and Missionary Society.

The City acquired this site from pond owner John Remsen in several parcels between 1856 and 1861. Parks received the property and other sections of what is now Baisley Pond Park in 1914. Considering Carter’s many contributions to her community and physical neighborhood, City Council member Thomas White Jr. sponsored an $875,000 renovation of this site in her honor. The angel weather vane atop the garden’s gazebo is a lasting tribute to a woman who many considered to be an “angel” in Jamaica, Queens, one who spent over fifty years of her life there teaching, praying, and serving.

The garden surrounding the gazebo and the 17-bench seating area give visitors to the park a peaceful resting area to enjoy the beauty of Baisley Pond. Over 46 tree, shrub, and perennial plant species maintain four seasons of color, including crab apple (Malus spp.), evergreen, eastern redbud (Cercis canadensis), and serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.) trees to offer shade, and azalea and hydrangeas to bloom at ground level. A seven-foot steel fence, ornamented with ivy and bird artwork, surrounds the property.

Directions to Baisley Pond Park

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