Category Archives: American gardens

The winter garden: Rockwood

Rockwood, Delaware, 1982 HABS, Library of Congress“Conservatory interior looking southwest,” Rockwood, near Wilmington, Delaware, 1982, by David Ames, via an Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (all photos here).

Built between 1851 and 1854 in the Rural Gothic Revival style, the estate still exists as the Rockwood Park and Museum.

Designed for Joseph Shipley, a member of one of the leading Quaker mill-owning families in the area, Rockwood is an unusually complete and effective statement of early Victorian taste in the tradition of A.J. Downing and John Clauduius Loudon. The mansion house reflects both early Victorian romanticism and the picturesque merger of irregular architecture and naturalistic landscape. When taken in conjunction, the architecture, the plan, the garden and the remaining furnishings depict a total physical sensibility that is fast vanishing from America.

– 1986 HABS report

Rockwood, Delaware, 1982 HABS, Library of Congress“Conservatory, detail of cast iron columns looking northeast.”

Rockwood, Delaware, 1982 HABS, Library of Congress“Conservatory, roof and northwest wall looking north.”

More winter gardens are here.

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The Sunday porch: Madison, Georgia

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Stokes-McHenry House, 240 S. 2nd St., Madison, Georgia, 1939 or 1944, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

This porch is certainly a strong contender for “best in latticework.”  The woodwork around the front door is not bad either.

The house was built in the 1820s in the Federal style. The porch was given its current Italianate and Gothic features in the 1850s. It still stands — the property of descendants of its original owners.

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The winter garden: diplomatic cacti

Mexican Embassy cacti, Library of Congress“Mexican ambassador Don Manuel Tellez standing amidst potted cacti in the embassy’s conservatory, Washington, D.C.,” ca. 1925, by National Photo Company, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

More winter gardens are here.

After she left he bought another cactus
just like the one she’d bought him
in the airport in Marrakesh. . .

Next week he was back for another,
then another. . .

– Matthew Sweeney, from “Cacti

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The Sunday porch: Montana

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W. C. Child Ranch, near Helena, Montana, ca. 1890,* from an Historic American Building Survey (HABS), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Mr. Child became rich from prospecting in Montana, and he built this octagonal house on his 3,000-acre ranch in the late 1880s.

However, he used it not as a home, but as a party space.  (The whole second floor was a ballroom.) He and friends — sometimes over 100 — would take the Northern Pacific train from nearby Helena for banquets and dances lasting late into the night.

By 1893, Child was broke and had to assign the ranch to another man.  He was found dead in the house a month later.

Child called the ranch “White Face Farm” for the Hereford cattle he raised there, and he built Montana’s largest barn to protect them during the winters. There are more details here.

The house and barn still exist as a special events center called Kleffner Ranch.

*Both HABS pictures here were photocopies of original photographs; the originals are in the collection of the Historical Society of Montana.

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Vintage landscape: country home

Country Home, 1904, Library of Congress“Bird’s-eye view of a new home in the country, with formal and vegetable gardens, carriage house, windmill, and farm animals,” ca. 1904, by H.M. Smyth Printing Company (Saint Paul, Minnesota), via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Early 20th century farmhouse chic, only $$2,500.

Detail, The Country Home

Detail

I’m wondering about the white shapes in rows to the right of the house. What are they? Beehives?

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