Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big Tree Farm

'Big Tree Farm' was built for James Norman Hill by the firm of Walker & Gillette in Brookville c. 1917, with Olmsted landscaping. Hill was the son of James Hill, one of the biggest railroad tycoons in the country, and himself was a vice president and director of the Northern Pacific Railway. James Hill and his wife were very prominent horticulturists, and grew numerous specimen trees and plants on their estate, and also won numerous botany competitions. The name of the estate, 'Big Tree Farm', derives from a massive sycamore tree that sat (and maybe still sits) somewhere on the estate. Following Hill's death, his wife inherited the home and continued to live there until her death. Today the home is run as the AHRC. Click HERE to see 'Big Tree Farm' on google earth.

The main gate and gate house.

The entry court to the home, which is on the far west side of the building. It is currently undergoing repairs.

The rear facade of the house and rear terrace. The picture below was taken in 2008.

The ballroom separates the rear terrace and the front garden and reflecting pool.

The front garden and pool.

At the far end of the reflecting pool is a very large urn that functions as a fountain. Flanking the urn are two small gazebos with carved wooden columns.

'Big Tree Farm' truly lives up to its name. While a fair amount of the original trees are gone, there are still many massive beech trees that dot the grounds. Above is an allee near the main house. Below is a very long line of giant copper beeches in the rear, near the greenhouses and vegetable gardens.

A very big thanks to Aimee Keegan at the AHRC for the help!

Click below to see 'Big Tree Farm' in a 1966 aerial shot.


Anonymous said...

I am prety sure on the name origin.
Just past the AHRC, heading to Old Westbury , is a handsome old clapboard..At one time, I am sure it was part of the estate..back in the 60's the house was owned by family the left side facing the house is a monsterous old tree (I hope its still there)..we were told as kids that it was the largest tree on Long Island.

Anonymous said...

My brother attended the AHRC during the 60s/early 70s. I remember the driveway was a splendorous trip up to the estate. Right out of Great Gasby. The grounds and main house were so beautiful, elegant and serene. A wonderful memory that I hold with great fondness.

Maite said...

Wow, that was orginally the Baxter Foundation, School for gifted children founded around 1952/1953. That used to belong to my half brother's grandparents, Mr. George Baxter, his wife was a psychologist and that's where my brother was born....later on my mom and my brother moved back to El Salvador. My mom has told me about the house but I had never seen pictures of it. The estate is absolutely gorgeous! She told me they were neighbors with the Vanderbilts back in the 50´s.