United States of America, Massachusetts, Suffolk County, Boston
Walnut Street (Boston, Massachusetts)
Located on less than an acre, Walnut Street garden's most intriguing aspect is its survival as a vestige of the spacious semi-suburban district that was envisioned by the early "mansion house" developers of Beacon Hill. Erected in 1811 as a freestanding structure, it was soon built in with neighboring dwelling rowhouses after a decade-long recession, but its rear garden remains. It is one of the few spaces on Beacon Hill that has, perhaps, always been a garden.
A large open area shows up on the maps of the period, but there is no specific information about the garden for more than 100 years. In 1929 the house became the property of a well-to-do couple, Mr. and Mrs. Edward A. Taft. Mrs. Taft soon joined the Beacon Hill Garden Club, and we begin to have some written descriptions from this period. The well-known landscape architect Arthur A. Shurcliff of Colonial Williamsburg is mentioned as doing some work in the rear courtyard, and possibly the overall garden design. In the earliest photograph of the garden, dating from the late 1950's, the major design is in place.
The house remained in the Taft family until, in 1976, it was divided into two separate condominium units. Since that time the ownership of the garden has been shared. One half retaining the larger, open lawn and surrounding borders, the other, was given the charming enclosed courtyard and southern more formal part of the garden upstairs. Two years ago both garden areas were redesigned by Marc Mazzarelli Associates of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Persons associated with the garden include: Arthur A. Shurcliff (ca. 1930, landscape designer), Uriah Cotting (former owner, 1811-1814), Nathaniel P. Russell (former owner, 1814-1826), B.P. Homer (former owner, 1826-1856), James Davis (former owner, 1865-?), Mrs. H.P. Cushing and Miss Florence Cushing (former owners, 1891-1928) and Marc Mazzarelli Associates (landscape architects, 2007).
The folder includes worksheets, site plans, and additional information.