United States of America, Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, Sewickley
Newington (Sewickley, Pennsylvania)
1980-1981, 1986, 2008-2009
The 10.5 acre property called Newington was part of the land acquired by Major Daniel Leet in payment for his service in the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War, and continues to be inhabited by descendants of the family to the present day, comprising seven generations. The original four-room, two-story farmhouse built in 1816 is still part of the family home, with a larger, three-story addition built in 1823, and Victorian embellishments that were added circa 1850, some of which still remain. The low-fired, soft red brick from which the house was built was made from clay from the Little Sewickley Creek on the property. The land was planted in food crops, fruit orchards and arbors, fodder crops for livestock, and pastures. Landscape architect Samuel B. Parsons (1819-1906) developed the ornamental gardens circa 1870, putting in an undulating lawn, trees, and shrubs. Formal rose gardens with clipped yew parterres and a terrace across the front of the house were added circa 1910, designed by landscape architect Bryant Fleming (1876-1946). In the 1970s the owners propagated rhododendrons that were planted in islands, and installed an azalea walk.
The gardens include long perennial borders, tea roses and tulips in formal beds, rose arbors, a primrose garden, the azalea allée, a rock and herb garden alongside an old spring house, and a kitchen garden for fruit and vegetables. There are mature trees, including a hollow sycamore that is at least 300 years old. Topiaries of Japanese boxwood are shaped like chickens, and Callery pear trees and yew have been reshaped to resemble Hershey's kisses.
Major Leet was a surveyor of the "Depreciation Lands" in western Pennsylvania that were given in lieu of payment to soldiers of the Continental Army when the currency of the time lost its value. He selected alluvial land along the Ohio River for himself. Newington was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 29, 1975.
Persons associated with the garden include: Major Daniel Leet (surveyor and first owner, 1746 -1830); David and Eliza Leet Shields (former owners and builders of the house, circa 1816-1870); Hannah and Rebecca Shields (owners, circa 1870-1985); Samuel B. Parsons (landscape architect, circa 1870); Martha Cook Williams (former owner, circa 1895-1936); Bryant Fleming (landscape architect, circa 1906); Susan Williams Davis (former owner, 1936-1958) and Judson Brooks (former owner and hybridizer of rhododendrons, 1958-1998).
The folder includes worksheets, site plans, and additional information about the house and garden.
This property is featured in "Living with Antiques" by James D. Van Trump published in Antiques magazine in May 1968; The Golden Age of American Gardens , page 137,by Mac Griswold and Eleanor Weller published in 1991; and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review "Living" 3, June 26, 2000