Memorial Garden Opens in Staunton

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Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden

A forgotten alleyway in Staunton has been transformed into a beautiful event space thanks to a generous gift from an anonymous donor and nearly a year and a half of hard work.

The Mevluda Tahirovic Memorial Garden opened Saturday evening, revealing a 150-year-old alleyway that looks brand new.

“It's a wonderful breath of fresh air to be able to have this wonderful garden for the community,” said Susie Klotz, a relative of the donor.

Tahirovic was the girlfriend of the anonymous donor who made this transformation a reality. He wanted her name to have a lasting impact and felt Staunton was the perfect place to do it.

“As long as it made your life easier, she was happy, and this is what this garden is,” said Elmir Tahirobic, Mevulda’s nephew. “It will give people an opportunity to have a wedding reception or give them a chance to hold a party.”

The garden covers an alley behind the Smith Center, which houses many different community art projects. The building underwent a renovation ten years ago, but the garden space was forgotten.

“It was a dump, basically. The building looked great, but the back looked terrible,” said Smith Center volunteer Scott Ballin.

Architect Bob Mortensen says the project cost around $100,000. Now the space will be a free community venue for all to use.

“It was a difficult space to work in because it's so narrow, and working with heavy equipment, we're doing a lot of hand-work in here, and the craftsmanship of it is just really remarkable, I'm just really so proud of it,” he said.

Volunteers at the Smith Center hope this is just the beginning.

“This is sort of just the beginning or catalyst for further changes around this block in downtown Staunton,” said Ballin.

The garden will also act as a memorial for people in the community to remember their loved ones. For $500, people can purchase an engraved brick to be placed in the garden. All proceeds benefit the smith center.