The Trustees' Historic Naumkeag Estate Awarded National Historic Landmark Status

Contact Information

Susan Edwards
Director of Historic Resources
978.921.1944 x1896
207.468.3973
sedwards@ttor.org

Will Garrison
Historic Resources Manager
413.298.3239 x3012
wgarrison@ttor.org

Media Inquiries Only:
Kristi Perry
Manager of Public Relations
781.784.0567 x7003
kperry@ttor.org

 

Sharon, MA – The Trustees of Reservations, the nation’s oldest, regional land trust and nonprofit conservation organization, today announced that Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne has designated Naumkeag, The Trustees’ historic 19th-century country estate, a National Historic Landmark. Naumkeag, a national treasure known for its shingle-style, McKim, Mead & White-designed main house and carriage house, fine collection of international arts and antiques, and renowned landscaped gardens, becomes the fithth Trustees property to receive the designation. The Trustees of Reservations is one of only two organizations in the nation to hold this many national landmarks.

The National Historic Landmark designation is the highest recognition given to properties determined to be of exceptional historical value. The properties are recommended by the National Park System Advisory Board and designated by the Secretary of the Interior. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places across the United States bear this distinction.

“These new National Historic Landmarks reflect some of the most important historical and cultural developments in American history,” says Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of the Interior. “Each of them tells a story about us as a nation and a people. Together they exemplify our history, heritage, literature and architecture. They are designated as National Historic Landmarks so that we may all enjoy and learn from them.”

The four other National Historic Landmarks owned, operated and cared for by The Trustees include the Old Manse in Concord, former home of Nathanial Hawthorne; Castle Hill on the Crane Estate in Ipswich, former home of plumbing tycoon Richard T. Crane, Jr.; the Mission House in Stockbridge, former home of the Reverend John Sergeant; and, the Bryant Homestead in Cummington, home of one of America's foremost 19th-century poets, William Cullen Bryant. All properties are located in Massachusetts and are open to the public.

“We are thrilled to be able to add Naumkeag to our growing list of National Historic Landmarks,” says Andy Kendall, president of The Trustees of Reservations. “Miss Choate chose to bequeath her family home to The Trustees knowing it would be lovingly maintained and shared with generations to come. We hope the Park Service’s recognition will inspire more people to visit.”

About Naumkeag: The Home and Gardens
Tucked away in the picturesque southern hills of the Berkshires, Naumkeag is an outstanding example of a country estate from the bygone Gilded Age. Named for the Native American word for the area around Salem, Massachusetts, Naumkeag is filled with original late-19th century furnishings, arts and antiques from around the world. The 44-room estate was designed by the famous firm of McKim, Mead & White, and constructed between 1885 and 1886. The house combined the new “Shingle Style” with traditional European elements including brick and stone towers, two-tone brick patterns and wrought iron architectural details. Inside, the home is decorated with elegant cherry, oak and mahogany paneling, ornate plaster, decorative flooring, brass and silver hardware and a three-story hand-carved oak staircase.

Mabel Choate, a well known preservationist and horticulturist, inherited Naumkeag from her mother in 1929. Miss Choate was the daughter of Joseph Hodges Choate (1832-1917), a famous New York lawyer and Ambassador to the Court of St. James, and Caroline Sterling Choate (1837-1929), an artist and co-founder of Barnard College. The Choates built Naumkeag as a summer home for their family – including a farm, greenhouses and vegetable gardens – so they could escape from the city and enjoy a more picturesque, pastoral life. Unlike the larger houses of Newport, RI and Lenox, which were open for only a six-week “season,” the Choates summered at Naumkeag from April to November.

The property surrounding Naumkeag is world famous for its sophisticated 20th-century-designed landscaped gardens that evolved incrementally over a period of several decades. Fletcher Steele, considered by many to be America’s first, modern landscape architect, worked between 1929 and 1958 in collaboration with Mabel Choate to design Naumkeag’s eight acres of “garden rooms.” Steele’s commission at Naumkeag, the longest of his career, produced a series of landscapes – from the Afternoon Garden, Chinese Garden and evergreen topiary garden, to the famous Moon Gate and Blue Steps – which today serve as icons of American garden design.

For many years Miss Choate traveled around the world gaining inspirations for decorating, horticulture and garden design; the results which can be seen throughout Naumkeag’s interior and exterior. Upon her death in 1958, Miss Choate bequeathed the house and grounds to The Trustees of Reservations to help preserve the “aura of goodness and gracious living” for future generations to enjoy.

About the Trustees of Reservations
Founded in 1891, The Trustees of Reservations is the nation’s oldest regional land conservation trust and nonprofit conservation organization. Supported by more than 40,500 members, The Trustees protect Massachusetts’ natural and historic resources for everyone to enjoy. From working farms to historic homesteads, barrier beaches and mountain vistas, The Trustees own and manage nearly 25,000 acres on 96 reservations in 70 communities across Massachusetts, including five National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, and seven properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Trustees also hold perpetual conservation restrictions on over 16,000 acres – more than any other conservation organization in Massachusetts – permanently protecting scenic and natural areas from development, and have assisted in the protection of over 16,000 additional acres.

In the fall of 2006, The Trustees formed a permanent affiliation with Boston Natural Areas Network (BNAN), the city of Boston?s largest land trust and advocate for open space. Since 1977, BNAN has protected over 800 acres of urban wilds and created over 3 miles of greenways. BNAN currently owns 37 community gardens and provides services to all Boston’s 175 urban gardens. The affiliation is designed to accelerate efforts to acquire, protect and advocate for urban open space, while furthering both organizations’ commitment to promoting quality of life in the city of Boston and beyond.

The Trustees employ 150 full-time and 400 seasonal staff with expertise in many areas, including ecology, education, historic resources, land protection, conservation, land management, and planning. To find out how you can interview Trustees? experts on important topics and issues, volunteer or become a member, please call The Trustees of Reservations at 781.784.0567, visit our website at www.thetrustees.org, or email us at membership@ttor.org.