Naumkeag

Garden by Garden

In 1884 Joseph Hodges Choate and his wife purchased a favorite Stockbridge picnic spot for the site of their summer home, commissioning their friend and leading architect of the age, Charles McKim and his firm McKim, Mead and White, for its design. Between 1884 and 1890, landscape architect Nathan Barrett developed cut flower gardens, a tennis court, a linden walk, an orchard, and a farm complex around the main house. Beyond the gardens, the site’s natural scenic beauty completed one of the most picturesque compositions in the Berkshires.

After inheriting the estate in 1929, Miss Choate and acclaimed landscape architect Fletcher Steele began a long and fruitful artistic collaboration that transformed the landscape at Naumkeag over the next 30 years. Pushing the boundaries of the old Beaux Arts traditions, Steele wove new artistic expressions of French Modernism into Naumkeag’s magnificent and renowned masterpieces such as the Afternoon Garden, the Blue Steps, the Tree Peony Terrace, and the Chinese Garden. Today, Steele’s Blue Steps, created in 1938, are one of the most recognized 20th-century landscapes in the country – a true expression of his belief that garden design should be considered one of the fine arts.

What's Happening When: The Restoration Phase by Phase

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