Friday, May 11, 2012

The Gardens of 'Claverack'

 The gardens of 'Claverack', the Thomas H. Barber estate designed by Robert Henderson Robertson c. 1892 in Southampton.  These 1915 photos were taken by Frances Benjamin Johnston.  Click HERE and HERE to see brochures from when 'Claverack' was for sale during two different decades.  Click HERE to see 'Claverack' on google earth and HERE on bing.

Photos from the Frances Benjamin Johnston Collection (Library of Congress).


magnus said...

I'll take the garden gate in the last photo, please. Perfection.

The Ancient said...

Comparing the grounds today with the pictures of how they once were is just heartbreaking.

As I'm getting old and forgetful, I must ask --

Is there *any* house in the Hamptons with its old gardens substantially intact?

(And is there a settled answer as to why people gave up their gardens? Was it primarily labor costs?)

Doug Floor Plan said...

I also like the gate in the last photo; but I'm mostly impressed with the clipped hedge in the first photo that you walk through (I'm sure there's a correct name for it) -- in 1915 how did the gardeners know that shape would be needed to fit most Americans in the 21st Century?

The Ancient said...

DFP --

If you look at the earliest sales brochure, you'll see that even then half the property -- or ten acres -- was reserved for potatoes.

Zach said...

Whenever we drove into Suffolk County when I was a little kid one of the things I always remember hearing was 'When I was younger this was all potato fields'.

Who needs Idaho when you've got Potato Island on the east coast.

Anonymous said...

The difference between the sale prices of the two earlier posts is astounding - from $80K to $3.95M. What do you get today for $80,000? A plastic-windowed pre-fabbed shack put together with staple guns and situated on a concrete slab. Gravel driveway is extra.

archibuff said...

Very impressed with the long gone gardens, especially all the clipped hedges forming outdoor rooms, even one out behind the service area to hide the drying laundry.

I think it would be very unlikely to find any private garden from the past substantially intact today due to the usual suspects; maintenance and labor. Great looking house but the gardens really made it special.

Long Island potatoes also were highly praised and gave the Idaho a run for the money. Too bad their production has faded as has the once dominant Long Island duckling. Today we have vineyards, sod farms, heirloom veggies and organic herbs. The ROI has improved drastically.

Mansions of the Gilded Age, Gary Lawrance, AIA said...

While many of the past gardens of the Hamptons are gone, the Hamptons
gardens of today are still something to see. There is a great book about Marion Coffin, a famed landscape designer entitled, " Money, Manure & Maintenance". Gardens were always the first thing to suffer when it was time cut costs, since they are the most labor intensive. This summer I suggest to all of those who can, go to the many garden tours open to the public in the Hamptons. The Parrish Art Museum has a weekend symposium in the middle of June called, Landscape Pleasures,The Animal Rescue Fund, ARF, is also having a tour of Southampton gardens on June 16. Also make sure you visit the magnificent rose garden of the Southampton Rose Society at the Rogers Memorial Library, There are many more garden and house tours in the hamptons all summer.

lil' gay boy said...

I must say I am somewhat amazed by the Johnston photos of late -- I understand intellectually that glass plate negatives can produce such results, and even if the colors aren't quite "true" it is nonetheless quite enchanting to see these homes & gardens as they appeared almost 100 years ago in such everyday crystal clarity.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Enchanting indeed---let me count the ways I love these pictures. Looks as if Magnus and I will have a bidding war over the gate

The Ancient said...


(Includes something on how the photos were colorized. Also, her private papers indicate she took detailed notes on the color schemes in the gardens she photographed.)

(All the pics you could ever want. More, maybe.)

Dilettante --

They're still making those gates in Britain.

The Ancient said...

Gary --

Thank you -- I ordered the book this afternoon.

I know there are many lovely gardens in the Hamptons. But I was wondering if any of the the old gardens -- pre-WWI gardens -- still exist in anything like their original form. (I would give back at least a few days of my life to see the rose gardens of Red Maples, as they once were.)

Nowadays, many houses in the Hamptons seem to put a premium on flat, empty spaces -- for tents, parties and fundraisers. (Claverack, too, I seem to remember.) This is what the Hamptons has become.

Tentative moral: Having people you don't really know over for drinks is destructive of gardening, regardless of the cause.

Reggie Darling said...

I love that this house is supposedly a copy of the Van Rensselaer Manor of Albany, now long since gone (well, mostly, some of it was moved to the campus of -- I believe -- either Amherst or Williams in the early 20th century). The Van Rensellaer House's original grisaille wallpapers have recently been beautifully refurbished and hung in the Met's American Art Galleries. Claverack is the name of the town in the Hudson River Valley that sits at the most southerly end of the former extensive van Rensellaer lands, and is where there is a bulding, now a private house, known as the Lower Manor House, that was originally built as a rent collection and trading outpost by the van Rensellaers. Claverack means "clover field" in Dutch, apparently. Reggie

Dovecote Decor said...

Edmund Hollander does sensational gardens on Long Island. Look him up, he has flawless taste. Come by and visit us in N.C. I just posted about the historic Reynolda Estate and Gardens.