About The Stevens-Coolidge Place
Enter a world of early 20th-century country elegance at a former farm-turned-estate, where refined interiors are complemented by an array of lovely gardens.
What makes The Stevens-Coolidge Place a special place?
The Stevens-Coolidge Place is a wonderful example of “the country place,” when rural retreats were designed as places that integrated indoor and outdoor spaces – and that were meant to be lived in as well as admired. Formerly known as Ashdale Farm, it served as the summer home of John Gardner Coolidge – a diplomat who was descended from Thomas Jefferson and was nephew to Isabella Stewart Gardner – and Helen Stevens Coolidge from 1914 to 1962.
Helen Coolidge was devoted to preserving and improving Ashdale Farm, which her family had first acquired in 1729 and then farmed for six generations. With her husband’s support, she transformed the farm into an elegant agricultural estate that exemplified the gracious country living enjoyed then by wealthy Bostonians.
The most dramatic transformation occurred in 1914, when the Coolidges hired preservation architect Joseph Everett Chandler to remodel the estate’s two connected, Federal-period farmhouses, which resulted in the creation of a gracious Colonial Revival estate.
Chandler also enhanced the design of the landscape, which eventually included enlarging the perennial garden and installing a kitchen and cut-flower garden, a rose garden, greenhouse complex, and a potager garden (or French vegetable garden) with a brick serpentine wall. Intermingling with the formal gardens are rustic elements, including hay fields, an orchard, and woodlands.
Inside, the house’s colorful and eclectic decoration reflect the Coolidges’ wide-ranging interests – and their frequent trips abroad. Chinese porcelain and other Asian artifacts mingle with American furniture and American and European decorative arts. The delightful entry hall wall mural, painted by Spanish artist Joseph Remidas, brings outdoor elements inside. You also don’t want to miss the dramatic split staircase, the delft-tiled dining-room fireplace, and the tavern ballroom.
When to Visit
Gardens: Open year-round, daily, 8am to sunset. Gardens are most vibrant mid-June though September. House tours are currently not available.
Public restrooms (seasonal).
137 Andover Street
North Andover, MA 01845
Get directions on Google Maps.
From I-93, take Route 125 (Andover by-pass) North 7.3 mi. At end of road, merge left onto Route 114 North. At traffic lights opposite Merrimack College (on left), turn right onto Andover St. (remains Route 125) and follow for 0.2 mi. Turn right at traffic lights (remains Andover Street) and follow for 0.5 mi. House and gardens are on left. Turn right on Chestnut St. Designated parking area (15 cars) located on east side of Chestnut St. directly across from house and gardens.
From I-495, take Exit 42 and follow Route 114 East 1 mi. Turn left onto Route 133 East and follow for 0.2 mi. to lights and straight over (becomes Andover St.). Follow for 0.5 mi. to house and gardens on left. Turn right on Chestnut St. Designated parking area (15 cars) located on east side of Chestnut St. directly across from house and gardens.
Gardens: FREE; on-site donation welcome from nonmembers. Open year-round, daily, 8am to sunset. Gardens are most vibrant mid-June though September.
House tours are currently not available.
The Stevens-Coolidge Place typifies the era of “the country place,” when rural retreats were designed as integrated complexes of indoor and outdoor spaces intended to be lived in as well as admired.
The Main House consists of two connected late-Federal period farmhouses (c. 1800–1820), built by Helen Coolidge’s grandparents and later remodeled in the Italianate style (c.1850). A ballroom in the house’s wing – along with some town records – indicate that the Stevens family may have also operated a tavern at one time.
The family homestead’s most dramatic and lasting metamorphosis was its transformation to reflect the architectural aesthetics of the Colonial Revival trend. Preservation architect Joseph Chandler incorporated dormers, bow windows, and other design elements from America’s Georgian and Federal-Colonial periods to increase light, air, and living space, improve views, and augment flow between indoor and outdoor spaces. He also doubled the size of the dining room and added a brick terrace at the rear of the house.
Chandler left personal trademarks in the house as well, including the delft-tiled dining room fireplace and a “good morning” double staircase similar to one he installed at the Mayflower House in Plymouth.
The house’s colorful and eclectic decoration reflects the Coolidges’ wide-ranging interests. John Coolidge’s extraordinary collection of Chinese porcelains and other Asian artifacts coexist with early American furniture (particularly pieces from the New England region), Anglo-Irish cut glass, European porcelain, needlework samplers, paintings, prints, and other souvenirs of the couple’s world travels. The delightful entry hall wall mural, painted by itinerant Spanish artist Joseph Remidas, brings outdoor elements inside the house.
Chandler’s garden designs for Ashdale Farm were formal, though informally planted, placing geometric organization within the context of welcoming outdoor “rooms.” True to the Colonial Revival aesthetic, the gardens sit behind the house for privacy, offering what Chandler described as “simplicity and an indescribable air of peace.”
Helen Coolidge’s love for French chateau gardens inspired the Coolidges’ own elaborate French garden, created by Chandler in 1931 next to the serpentine brick wall modeled after ones designed by Thomas Jefferson for the University of Virginia. The French garden has since been redesigned to feature ginkgo trees, though it is being restored in phases.
Typically of agricultural estates, Ashdale Farm’s elegant lifestyle intermingled with rustic elements. Just beyond cultivated gardens and lawns are farm fields and woodlands. The Coolidges kept farm animals (though they moved the odiferous barn farther away from the house), grew vegetables, and maintained an apple orchard, making their own hard cider during prohibition.
Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a bequest, with endowment, of Mrs. Helen Stevens Coolidge in 1962. Additional land purchased in 1980. Additional land given by Jane Whitehill in 1985 and Robert and Samuel Stevens through Mass. Land Conservation Trust in 1999.
Guided Group tours of house and gardens are currently not available.
Consult the events calendar for any upcoming events at The Stevens-Coolidge Place.
Conservation and Stewardship
Management Planning for Our Properties
Since 1891, The Trustees of Reservations have worked to protect special places in Massachusetts and maintain them to the highest standards. To ensure these standards are met, a program of careful planning and sound management is essential. Comprehensive property management plans are created for each reservation and are completely updated approximately every ten years. We often work with volunteers, property users, and members of the community to carry out this planning, which typically involves several steps:
- Describing in detail the site’s natural, scenic, and historical resources; identifying management issues related to the protection of those resources.
- Describing how visitors use the property; outlining the opportunities that the property provides for people to become involved in the work of conservation and caring for their community.
- Developing a detailed list of management recommendations, a work plan, and a description of financial needs for implementing the actions.
- Developing a prescribed routine management program for the reservation that will guide staff work plans, volunteer involvement, and the allocation of human and financial resources.
Stevens-Coolidge Place management plan
Maps and Resources
Self-guided landscape tour brochure distributed free from the bulletin board in the parking area and from a brochure rack on the verandah of the main house. You may also download a watercolor map of the grounds.
Planning Your Visit
Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.
Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:
- Protect wildlife and plants.
- Guard against all risk of fire.
- Help keep air and water clean.
- Carry out what you carry in.
- Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
- Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
- Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
- Enjoy and share the landscape with others.
Click on links below for further visitor information:
Before Setting Out
Enjoying Trustees Reservations
About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land
Tell Us What You Think
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Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.
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