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George Eastman House and Gardens, 1915-circa 1930s, 1985, 1991

Former owner:
Eastman, George
Landscape architect:
DeForest, Alling Stephen
Mead, William Rutherford 1846-1928
Warner, John Foster
Landscape designer:
Bragdon, Claude
Landscape designer, restoration:
Rahn, Katherine Wilson
George Eastman House
Physical description:
2 folders+ 12 35mm slides (photographs) + 19 postcards
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, New York, Monroe, Rochester
New York
1915-circa 1930s, 1985, 1991
The gardens at the George Eastman house have been partially restored to the original circa 1920 designs of landscape architect Alling S. DeForest (1875-1957) and architect and theatrical designer Claude Bragdon (1866-1946), with work beginning in 1984 following a grant of $16,000 from the Rochester Garden Club. The original eight gardens rooms had been reduced to four: a terrace garden, library garden, rock garden and sunken west garden. The formal terrace garden has boxwood-edged flower beds planted with more than 90 varieties of perennials, with reconstructed brick paths between the beds. The library garden, replacing the historic cutting garden, contains double rows of arborvitae lined with tulip bulbs, trees, shrubs, ground cover plants and vines. The rock garden features scalloped borders of dolomite rocks and a grape arbor with seating beneath. The sunken west garden, originally designed by Bragdon and influenced by the gardens at Hestercombe in England designed by Sir Edward Lutyens and Gertrude Jekyll, has formal flower beds and a wisteria-covered garden house. Trees and shrubs have been planted in front of the house, placed so that they will not obscure the house and 70 feet of open lawn. About 300 historic varieties of perennials, bulbs, ground covers, trees and shrubs have been planted.
George Eastman (July 12, 1854-March 14, 1932) purchased 8.5 acres in 1902 and worked with landscape architect Alling S. DeForest to install elegant floral gardens as well as a working farm on the property. Eastman purchased four more acres in 1916. The Georgian Revival house and colonnaded pergola were designed by architect J. Foster Warner. During Eastman's lifetime, known as the "Country Place Era", there were five greenhouses including a palm house that supplied fresh flowers and orchids, a rose garden, orchard, sizable vegetable and berry gardens, a poultry yard, stables, a barn, and pastures. Eastman bequeathed the property to the University of Rochester as a home for the college president, and that led to the simplification of the gardens, including replacing brickwork walkways with turf or concrete. A sunken lily pool was filled in and covered by a rectangular reflecting pool. The remaining farm elements such as the vegetable garden and livestock facilities were removed or converted. When the Eastman House was transformed into a museum of photography beginning in 1949 the greenhouses and peony garden on the west side were replaced by a parking lot, with the remaining lawn bordered on two sides with white flowers.
The museum's West Garden was dedicated as a memorial to Virginia Pike Judson, past president of the Rochester Garden Club in 1985. At that
The Eastman House gardens and grounds can be toured, with guided tours offered from mid-May through September. The property was designated a National Historic Landmark on November 13, 1966 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Persons associated with the garden include George Eastman (former owner, 1902-1947), University of Rochester (former owner, 1947), George Eastman House, Inc. (former owner, 1947- ), Alling Stephen DeForest (landscape architect, 1902-1921), Claude Bragdon (landscape architect of West Garden, 1916-1917), J. Foster Warner (architect, 1902), William Rutherford Mead (architect, 1902), Katherine Wilson Rahn (landscape architect, restoration, 1985).
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
Photographs are located at the George Eastman House Wauconda, IL. Additional materials located at Curt Teich Postcard Archives in Wauconda, IL.
The folder includes worksheets, photocopies of articles and other information about the property.
Garden featured in Country Life in America, September 1910, p. 524-7
Garden featured in Garden Design Magazine, Jan/Feb. 1991
Garden featured in American Country Houses for Today, 1915, p. 322
Repository Loc.:
Smithsonian Gardens, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Capital Gallery, Suite 3300, MRC 506, Washington, DC 20013-7012
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens

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