The white plastic has come down and the renovated Japanese Tea Garden debuted Wednesday in Golden Gate Park, though there’s still another year of stonemason and landscaping work until the job is complete.

The Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden is the oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, but it was never intended to get this old. It was built as a temporary structure for San Francisco's 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, then moved from the Palace of Food Products (which was in the Marina) to Golden Gate Park, where it was supposed to live out its numbered years. More than 100 years later, the contemporary structure still survives, though plenty of it has decayed, as it was never designed to sit outdoors.

But a $2 million renovation has been underway on the garden’s pagoda, and the Chronicle reports the restored Japanese Tea Garden pagoda was unveiled to the public on Wednesday. The plastic around the structure is torn down, there are new redwood shingles on the roof, and new outdoor-friendly copper and brass hinges on the structure.  

“The shingles on the top roof had deteriorated to the point that the paint was holding it together,” the garden’s chief gardener Steven Pitsenbarger told the Chronicle. “You could squeeze the wood and it would crumble in your hands.”

But the centerpiece of the restoration, and something we have never seen or heard before,  is the addition of 20 windchime-style brass bells. Similar brass bells were on the original 1915 structure, but they did not survive the move to Golden Gate Park.

This restoration is only partially complete. According to the Chronicle, “In October, stonemasons from a quarry in Japan will be coming to install a facing of rock around the concrete plinth that the pagoda sits on. Then the area around the base will receive fresh landscaping. The project’s second phase will start next year with the reconstruction of the bridge that serves as the pagoda’s main approach.” According to a release from Rec and Parks, the job should be done in 2023.

But the pagoda is now open again to the public. And remember, it’s now free to visit for San Francisco residents.

Related: Starting Today, Golden Gate Flower Parks Are Free for SF Residents [SFist]

Image: Asamudra via Wikimedia Commons