United States of America, Virginia, City of Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg
Chatham (Fredericksburg, Virginia)
Chatham, a Federal style mansion with numerous outbuildings, was built by William and Anne Randolph Fitzhugh from 1768 to 1771. William Fitzhugh (1742-ca. 1790) was a prominent citizen of colonial Virginia, member of the House of Burgesses, the House of Delegates, and the Continental Congress. The house is set on a hill overlooking the Rappahannock River and the historic town of Fredericksburg. More than 1,200 acres surrounded the house and were farmed by slaves. The property was named for the Earl of Chatham and the house and gardens were English in style. The garden was laid out in terraces leading to the river with a broad Adams style (neoclassical) stairway leading from the house. The original ornamental gardens did not survive occupation by the Union army during the Civil War, but were restored to emulate the style of their original 18th century design in ca. 1924 by landscape architect Ellen Biddle Shipman when the property was owned by Colonel and Mrs. Daniel B. Devore. Garden features at this time included a terracotta statue of Diana, box edged parterres, extensive rose gardens, Virginia red cedars used as borders, and eight bird gardens with birdhouses and runs for pheasants or peacocks.
The gardens designed by Ellen Biddle Shipman ca. 1924 included extensive flower beds planted for successive display throughout the growing season, beginning with snowdrops and daffodils, and ending with chrysanthemums. There were box-edged beds of Darwin tulips, iris, phlox, delphinium, Madonna lilies, and many other species. There were clipped cedar hedges, an avenue of dogwood, espaliered fruit trees, and painted brick piers with Ionic capitals planted with roses.
Much of Shipman's garden was discontinued in the 1950s during the ownership of John Lee Pratt, although the rose garden and boxed parterres were maintained. Further restoration of the Colonial-era gardens has been carried out since the property was deeded to the National Park Service in 1975. The Garden Club of Virginia funded a fellowship to document the garden in 2006.
William Fitzhugh and descendants owned the property from 1768 to 1806. Major Churchill Jones and descendants owned Chatham from 1806 to 1872, although the family left during the Civil War ca. 1862-1865 while the house was used as headquarters and hospital by the Union army. Oliver Watson and family owned Chatham from 1872 to 1889. Chatham was owned by Albert O. Mays from 1889 to 1900. Fleming G. and Elizabeth H. Bailey were the owners from 1900 to 1909. The Howard and Smith families owned the property from 1909 to 1914. Chatham was purchased by Mark Sullivan in 1914 and sold to Colonel and Mrs. Daniel Bradford Devore in 1920, who then sold in 1931 to John Lee Pratt, who willed Chatham to the National Park Service in 1975. It is now included in the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park and is open to the public.
Persons associated with the garden include William Fitzhugh and descendants (former owners, 1768-1806), Major Churchill Jones and descendants (former owners, 1806-1872), Oliver Watson and family (former owners, 1872-1889), Albert O. Mays (former owner, 1889-1900), Fleming G. and Elizabeth H. Bailey (formers owners, 1900-1909), Howard and Smith families (former owners, 1909-1914), Mark Sullivan (former owner, 1914-1920), Colonel and Mrs. Daniel Bradford Devore (former owners, 1920-1931), John Lee Pratt (former owner, 1931-1975), National Park Service (owner, 1975-present) and Ellen Biddle Shipman (landscape architect, redesigned and replanted Chatham in ca. 1924).
The folder includes worksheets and photocopies from other publications.
This property is featured in Garden Club of America publications: Historic Gardens of Virginia (1930), p. 172-175, Descriptive Guide Book of Virginia's Old Gardens, p.15, Homes and Gardens in Old Virginia (1931), p. 45-47, Manors of Virginia in Colonial Times (1909), p. 42-50, and the Golden Age of American Gardens (1991), p. 163