Restoration of the greenhouses at Naumkeag

Naumkeag Greenhouses

Stockbridge, MA; September 2017 – 45 years after collapsing under a snow load, Naumkeag’s greenhouse structures have been recreated and restored to functionality. Continuing the recent restoration efforts at the National Historic Landmark, the greenhouse project brings back a missing element to the landscape that celebrates the horticultural legacy of the Choate family, and will support The Trustees’ horticultural program into the future.

Project Goals

Recreate a non-surviving historic element to the landscape that was an integral part of the Choate’s life at Naumkeag. Help illustrate the extent to which horticulture was intertwined with life at Naumkeag, particularly during the Mabel Choate era.

Create a greenhouse space to help support the horticultural needs of the site, including plant propagation and the overwintering of tender plants.

Recreate the peach house that the Choates once had on the property that reflects the period’s interest in the art of growing fruit under glass.

Look to minimize our carbon footprint, and incorporate sustainable principles.

Scope

Propagation greenhouse
Construct a 17’ x 34’ greenhouse designed to evoke the original historic structure on the south side of the potting shed. This structure will be used for plant propagation, overwintering tender perennials and horticulture programs.

Peach House   
Construct a 10’ x 12’ peach house on the east side of the potting shed to grow a peach tree as during the Choate’s time. This house is intended to moderate winter temperatures and temperature fluctuations for the peach tree and would also serve us well as overwintering space for potted select annuals and tender perennials.

Head House
Renovate the existing head house to provide space for the heating plant as well as work and storage space. This is the only surviving element of the original complex.  This 264 sq ft, one story structure consists of one room and a full basement.

History

Naumkeag, built in 1885, was designed by McKim, Mead &White as the Stockbridge summer home for two generations of the Choate family. Mabel Choate inherited the property in 1929 and, with landscape architect Fletcher Steele, spent the next 30 years creating one of the most important transitional American Modern gardens in the country. The greenhouses were a functional and aesthetically important part of the Naumkeag landscape. The greenhouses included several structures used for plant propagation, coldframes to extend the growing season, and an orangery that housed a peach tree. The greenhouses survived intact until 1972 when they were largely demolished in a snowstorm.

Naumkeag is one of the few gilded age estates that survives intact. It was owned by two generations of the Choate family who spent almost every summer in Stockbridge between 1886 and 1958. The parents, Joseph and Caroline, regularly entertained their Stockbridge neighbors and the citizens of the town. Their daughter, Mabel, was committed to the preservation of the history and culture of Stockbridge throughout her lifetime and saw the opportunity to preserve Naumkeag as a place for the public to visit and enjoy in perpetuity.