United States of America, Rhode Island, Providence County, Providence
Rochambeau House (Providence, Rhode Island)
Situated on an irregular two-thirds acre lot, this garden's development began in 1929 under the supervision of its owner, Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, and continued over a period of 55 years. It is now in full maturity. Following Mrs. Sharpe's death in 1985, the property passed to Brown University, where it is now the home of the French Studies and Hispanic Studies departments. It was renamed Rochambeau House for Jean de Vimeu, Comte de Rochambeau, Maréchal de France and commandant of French forces encamped at Providence during the American Revolution. Although some features have changed and trees have been replaced, the design concept still remains one of a French-style garden composed of plants chosen for year-round green interest. Features include a formal, boxwood-edged lawn, paved teraces, stone-paved courts, stone steps and ornaments, paths of diamond pavers, espaliers on house walls, and spring flowering trees surrounding a handsome house. The long, narrow sequence of the west garden descending from formal to naturalized areas and woodland is a highlight.
Persons and firms associated with the property include: Mary Elizabeth Sharpe (former owner and landscape designer, 1929-1985); Henry Dexter Sharpe (former owner, 1929-?); Arthur Rice (architect, 1929); Marian Cruger Coffin (landscape architect, 1934); Marjorie Sewell Cautley (landscape architect, 1937); Ralph E. Dinneen (restoration architect, 1985-1987); Kevin Brannon (gardener, 1980 to date); Pat Vetere (Brown University grounds superintendent, current); Parker, Thomas & Rice (architects, 1929); and R. E. Dinneen Architects & Planners, Inc. (restoration architects, 1985-1987).
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Peggy Sharpe of Perennial Planters and Helen Rollins created the original garden file in 1995 or 1997. Jennifer Radford of Garden Club of New Haven facilitated this garden's documentation in 2000.
The folders include worksheets, copies of garden designs with planting plans, black and white photographs of the garden, black and white and color photocopies of images of the garden and Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, photocopies of articles about the house and garden, an unpublished 1990 paper by Lisa Hartjen entitled "The Gardens of 84 Prospect Street," notes on the garden by Mary Elizabeth Sharpe, a photocopy of Marjorie Sewell Cautley's 1937 consultant report, and correspondence and other information relating to the garden and Mary Elizabeth Sharpe.
Garden has been featured in the Providence Sunday Journal, May 25, 1941
Garden has been featured in the Providence Preservation Society News, January-March 1987, p. 4
Garden has been featured in "Madame Sharpe's Chateau," Commercial Renovation, n.d
Garden has been featured in Donald D. Breed, "A Legacy of Green for Generations," Providence Journal-Bulletin, June 2, 1994
Smithsonian Gardens, PO Box 37012, Capital Gallery, Suite 3300, MRC 506, Washington, DC 20013-7012