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Sonnenberg Gardens, 1870-1987

Former owner:
Thompson, Frederick Ferris 1836-1899
Thompson, Mary Lee Clark 1835-1923
Clark, Emory
Landscape architect:
Bowditch, Ernest W
Rotunno, Noreda A.
Handrahan, John
Landscape designer:
Wadamori, K.
Architect:
Allen, Francis
Physical description:
2 folders+ 72 35 mm. slides (photographs); 15 photographic prints
Type:
Projected media
Place:
United States of America, New York, Ontario County, Canandaigua
Date:
1870
1870-1987
Notes:
Sonnenberg was the summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson, who purchased the property in 1863. A 40-room Queen Anne style mansion was built between 1885 and 1887, while the gardens as they exist today were developed between 1903 and 1920. Initially, Boston landscape architect Ernest Bowditch and subsequently his assistant John Handrahan (who worked independently for Mrs. Thompson after about 1903) were responsible for their creation along with other individuals including K. Wadamori (the Japanese garden) and Francis Allen (the Roman bath). Besides the Japanese garden and Roman bath, garden areas include a formal Italian garden, a blue and white garden, a rose garden, an old-fashioned garden, and a rock garden. Specimen trees punctuate the flowing lawns, while a Lord & Burnham conservatory and greenhouse complex is a highlight of the property. Following Mary Thompson's death in 1923 the property passed to her nephew, Emory Clark, who in turn sold it to the United States Government in 1931. In 1973 the non-profit "Sonnenberg Gardens" organization acquired the core 52 acres of the property, including the gardens and mansion, which were opened to the public. Various restoration efforts ensued, including those of landscape architect Noreda A. Rotunno, and in 2005 the estate became the fifth state historic park in New York State.
Persons associated with the property include Mary Lee Clark Thompson (former owner, 1863-1923); Frederick Ferris Thompson (former owner, 1863-1899); Emory Clark (former owner, 1923-1931); Ernest W. Bowditch (landscape architect, ca. 1900-1907); John Handrahan (landscape architect, ca. 1900-1921); K. Wadamori (landscape designer, 1906-1908); Francis Allen (architect, 1914); and Noreda A. Rotunno (landscape architect, 1972-1977).
Summary:
The folders include worksheets, site plans, copies of brochures and articles about the gardens, correspondence, and additional information.
Publications:
Garden has been featured in P. H. Elwood, Jr., American Landscape Architecture (New York: The Architectural Book Publishing Co., Inc., 1924), pp. 7, 50-51
Garden has been featured in Madeline Cirillo Archer, "Sonnenberg Abloom," Americana, XI, No. 3 (1983), 34-39
Garden has been featured in M. Christine Klim Doell, Gardens of the Gilded Age: Nineteenth-Century Gardens and Homegrounds of New York State (Syracuse University Press, 1986), pp. 178-188
Garden has been featured in Lynn Lewis Monroe, "Sonnenberg Gardens: A Victorian Extravaganza," American Horticulturist (August 1985), pp. 19-23
Garden has been featured in Lynn Lewis Monroe, Sonnenberg Gardens, Canandaigua, N.Y.: A Splendid Collection of Gardens (Alfred, N.Y.: Lynn Lewis Monroe and Gene Monroe, 1985)
Garden has been featured in Richard G. Kenworthy, "Published Records of Italianate Gardens in America," Journal of Garden History 10, No. 1 (January-March 1990), p. 50
Local number:
NY167000
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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