Mount Vernon

A repeat “Vintage” from 2012. . .

I love this 1902 photograph of the Upper Garden at George Washington’s home, Mount Vernon. It’s so high Colonial Revival.

Early American Gardens has a post this week,  “Mount Vernon after George Washington’s death,” with images from the 19th century.  While looking at them I remembered the picture above and the two below.

Above is a hand-colored slide from a 1929 aerial photo, part of the lantern slides collection of Frances Benjamin Johnston.  The Upper Garden is on the right side.

And here is a general view (c.1910 – 1920) of the the Upper Garden by the Detroit Publishing Co.  All three images above via the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The 20th century photos are pretty, but they don’t accurately represent the Upper Garden of Washington’s time.  In the late 19th century, restorers thought that the boxwood parterres (many filled with hybrid tea roses) were original to Washington’s time, but research in the 1980s found that they were actually planted in the 1860s or 70s (although they may have been rooted from Washington’s boxwood).

The garden was substantially re-worked in 1985, but such is the romantic power of a boxwood hedge that the mid-19th century bushes were largely “kept in place by their own mythology and the mythology they supported of Washington as American royalty,” according to The History Blog, here.

But by the early 2000s, those boxwoods were dying, so the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, which owns the estate, decided to make an extensive (six-year) archaeological dig on the site.  This culminated in a “new” (1780s) design in 2011.  The area now holds large open beds of vegetables and flowers.  They are bordered by low boxwood hedges and centered by a 10′ wide gravel walkway.

You can read about the restoration in this Washington Post article, here.  And I really recommend watching this very interesting 30-minute C-Span video about the research and archaeology that informed it.

(There’s more about the garden in 2017 here.)

Vintage landscape: Enniscorthy

Garden w:birdbath, FB Johnston, Library of CongressGarden at Enniscorthy, the Cole-Morrill house, Albemarle County, Virginia, 1932, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The 1850 house still exists, and its 500 acres have been placed in a conservation easement. An earlier home on the plantation sheltered Thomas Jefferson’s family when the British raided Monticello in 1780.

The Sunday porch: the frame

Oatlands, Leesburg, VA, Library of CongressA view from the summer house at Oatlands, Loudoun County, Virginia, in the 1930s, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Oatlands Plantation was established in 1798 by a member of Virginia’s prominent Carter family. In 1903, it was sold to William and Edith Corcoran Eustis, and  Mrs. Eustis began to revive the old gardens in the Colonial Revival style. Since 1965, the property has been a site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. It is open to the public from April 1 to December 30.

The Sunday porch: Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- 1934 J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressThe Jean Baptiste Valle House from the southeast, Sainte Genevieve,  Missouri, April 10, 1934, by Alexander Piaget, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The town of Ste. Genevieve is the oldest permanent European settlement in Missouri — established about 1735 by French Canadian colonists. Today, its National Historic Landmark District has a number of surviving late 18th century and early 19th century homes.

The Jean Baptiste Valle house was built between 1785 and 1796 by Valle and his wife, Jeanne Barbeau.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- 1934 J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., S.W. view, HABS, Library of CongressA view of the southwest corner (same photographer and date as above).

The house has an “interrupted French colonial gallery” porch on all sides.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- cropped 1985 plan of J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressA plan of the property drawn in 1985 for HABS. The site is about 200′ x 250′.

The Sunday porch:enclos*ure- 1934 J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., N.W. view, HABS, Library of CongressA view of the garden from the interior of the west-side porch (seen on the left side of the second photo above), 1933, photographer not noted.

This section of porch connected a back bedroom and the kitchen.

These pictures from the 1930s were part of photographic surveys of early Missouri sites made by Alexander and Paul Piaget and Charles von Ravenswaay. In 1984, their work was donated to the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) collection of the Library of Congress (all photos here via the LoC).

1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressA view of the flower garden on the north side of the house, April 10, 1934, by Piaget.

Spring 1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressLilac along a pathway.

The photo above and the two below are not dated, but also seem to have been taken in April 1934. The steps went into the kitchen pantry.

probably April 1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressThe garden was laid out in 1867.

probably 1934-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of Congress

1985-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressAn undated view of the garden entrance “at side.”

West side, 1985-The Sunday porch:enclos*ure-  J. B. Valle Hse, Mo., HABS, Library of CongressThe west garden and porch in 1986, by Jack Boucher for HABS. Additional images and information were added to this property’s survey in 1985 and 86.

Today, the house is not open to the public. However, in 2013, it was sold to the National Society of the Colonial Dames to ensure its preservation.