Some residents will proceed with plans to beautify the caretaker's cottage house in Schiller Park, despite losing out on grants from the city of Columbus.

Some residents will proceed with plans to beautify the caretaker's cottage house in Schiller Park, despite losing out on grants from the city of Columbus.

And, as is the case with many local projects, the plans will rely on the generosity of people in the neighborhood.

Sara McNealey, who chairs the German Village Society's parks, public spaces and community events committee, said the total cost of sprucing up the space is $4,500: $1,500 for an irrigation system and $3,000 for planting and "hardscape" work, which in landscaping refers to paved areas like sidewalks.

"It does not all have to be done right now," she said.

She said improving the space is important because the cottage is on this year's Haus und Garten Tour, slated for June 26. Actors' Theatre of Columbus leases the cottage, believed to have been built in 1935, from the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department.

John S. Kuhn, artistic director for the theater troupe, said "any improvements would be a welcome step forward."

"The cottage itself is this charming brick two-story building," he said. "And there's nothing there. There's no landscaping around it. There are bare spots where the grass doesn't grow. In the 10 years I've been associated with Actors' Theatre, I don't remember any flowers, shrubbery, anything here."

To celebrate Earth Day, Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman and the Franklin County Board of Commissioners awarded grants to dozens of community gardens.

Although McNealey's committee applied for funding, it did not receive any money.

The German Village Society did receive $1,000 in grant money and an additional $50 in plant contributions from the Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. to support three gardens and new signage for Huntington Gardens in Schiller Park.

Also, Scotts gave an additional $250 in products to Actors' Theatre for the improvements at the gateway entrance of the park on Reinhard Avenue and the path leading to the amphitheatre.

Carol Mullinax, who applied for the grant on behalf of Actors' Theatre, expressed disappointment with the city's decision but shared McNealey's optimism that the upgrades will be accomplished.

"We have not given up hope," she said. "We hope to do something to the cottage. It could be just such a jewel at the edge of Schiller Park."

Landscape architect Jane Forbes designed the space with the theater troupe's devotion to William Shakespeare in mind. She said she worked off flower and herb gardens the playwright mentioned in his plays. Forbes' work, which she donated free to the project, is valued at $1,200.

"I think the purpose of the landscaping is to make the space more inviting for the people who are in the park and also those who live nearby and make it less attractive to vandals," Forbes said. "The plants around the cottage aren't necessarily tied into the Shakespeare theme."

Jody Graichen, director of the historic preservation programs for the GVS, said the catetaker's cottage is historically significant in that it's the only Works Progress Administration, or WPA, building in the village. The WPA was a New Deal-era agency that offered employment on public works projects.

"Every generation adds to the tapestry that makes German Village so historically significant and every generation has a story to tell," Graichen said. "If walls could talk, I'd venture to say the caretaker's cottage might have some of the best stories in" in the neighborhood.