Black Dome Press

Landscape Gardens on the Hudson, A History


Landscape Gardens on the Hudson, A History
The Romantic Age, the Great Estates and the Birth of American Landscape

by Robert M. Toole

foreword by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers

Paper, 8 1/2 x 11, 192 pages, 142 illustrations, many in color
Isbn: 9781883789688, $24.95

A New Look at the Golden Age of Grand Designs and Great Estates

The Designed Historic Landscapes of the Hudson River Valley Hyde Park (Vanderbilt) * Sunnyside * Olana * Clermont * Lyndhurst * Montgomery Place * Locust Grove * Wilderstein * Springside * Idlewild * Blithewood * Millbrook * Kenwood * The Point * Philipse Manor * Van Cortlandt Manor * The Pastures (Schuyler Mansion) & Others

The Hudson Valley's role in the mid-1800s as the birthplace of American landscape architecture is explored through the romantically designed grounds of the valley's historic estates and the works of the father of American landscape design,Hudson Valley native Andrew Jackson Downing.

'For the first time in print, the landscapes we most care about and most want to know about are brought vividly to life in straightforward, lucid prose. Upon putting down this volume no reader will be in doubt as to why these gardens are a supreme legacy to our civilization and one of the foundations stones of the environmental movement. This book is a marvel.'

J. Winthrop Aldrich, Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation, New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Landscape gardening is a hidden but unequaled historic resource along the Hudson River, exhibiting some of the most significant designed 19th-century landscapes in America. Landscape Gardens on the Hudson is the first comprehensive study of the development of these landscapes and the important role they played in the cultural underpinnings of the young United States a legacy that continues today with the design of America's urban parks and nearly every rural or suburban home.

This garden design work in the 19th century stands at the center of historic events that decisively shaped the concept of scenic beauty in America and became a core value of the American dream. It was undeniably indigenous, because it reflected America's genius of the place the genius loci of the Hudson River Valley. Fueled by sympathetic political, religious and nationalistic principles, America's cultural aspirations joined with the nation's physical assets, the landscape, to achieve a distinctive artistic expression. Most famously, this aesthetic found expression in the landscape paintings of the Hudson River School artists. Less well known is how this aesthetic determined the way Americans transformed the natural world around them.

The sense of America as Nature's Nation was a central theme for romanticism in the early republic. In America, wild nature was an essential component of the genius of the place. America was seen as special, distinguished by its wilderness condition. 'In the beginning,' wrote the English philosopher John Locke, 'all the world was America.'

This romantic sensibility expressed itself along the Hudson in the Picturesque landscape design approach, wherein art is hidden so that a fully natural and vernacular expression could prevail. These thoughts were exemplified at Washington Irving's Sunnyside and other cottage-style properties, and it reached a magnificent aesthetic crescendo with Olana, the unique and famed landscape creation by renowned Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church. Olana has been rightly called by a recent commentator one of the most perfectly realized Romantic landscape gardens in the world.

First, the predominantly English history of landscape gardening is traced as a prelude to landscape gardening in America. Then, the evolution of landscape design in New York's long colonial period is described at such historic sites as Philipse Manor (Yonkers), Livingston Manor (Clermont), Van Cortlandt Manor (Croton), and Schuyler House (Albany).

After the Revolutionary War, with the blossoming of the Romantic period, landscape gardening achieved a regional culmination that was unique in America. A dozen of the finest examples on the Hudson are presented. The history and design of such well-known historic properties as David Hosack's Hyde Park (today's Vanderbilt Mansion), Irving's Sunnyside, the Livingstons' Montgomery Place, Samuel F. B. Morse's Locust Grove, and Olana are interpreted not as historic houses alone, but as landscape garden compositions.

The historical commentary of Andrew Jackson Downing (1815 1852) is included at each site visited. Downing was a Hudson Valley native and America's leading landscape gardener in the antebellum years. His protégé, Calvert Vaux, coined the term 'landscape architect' and later teamed with Frederick Olmsted on the design of Central Park (1858), a triumph of romantic landscape design and the inspiration for nearly every American public park created in the subsequent 150 years.

The text is illustrated with over 140 period and contemporary images, including plans, photographs, bird's-eye views, paintings and engravings, many in color. ***

Praise for Landscape Gardens on the Hudson 'Robert Toole's important contribution in this book is to perform what amounts to a feat of garden archaeology, bringing to light the many-layered landscapes of these historic Hudson River places. This kind of knowledge is indispensable if their grounds are to be restored to a semblance of their former Romantic glory.' Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, President of the Foundation for Landscape Studies and founding President of the Central Park Conservancy 'In an artful and effective organization of material, the writer has told the story of landscape design along the Hudson, from agrarian land use in the colonial era until the last decades of the nineteenth century, accompanied by the commentary of Hudson Valley native Andrew Jackson Downing, one of America's early landscape design professionals, who knew many of these properties intimately. This book is a marvel.' J. Winthrop Aldrich

'This book presents, for the first time, the wonderful, holistic story of American landscape design in the Hudson Valley's Romantic age. It is a subject long-deserving of exploration, and landscape architect Robert Toole, with his specialty in Hudson Valley historic landscape study and restoration, has the professional perspective and the onsite experience to guide us on the journey.' Waddell Stillman, President, Historic Hudson Valley

'The story of the development of landscape gardening in the Hudson Valley closely parallels the story of the development of the Hudson River School of art and should have similar prominence. By illustrating the historic links between painting and landscape design, this book achieves that synthesis.' Sara J. Griffen, President, The Olana Partnership

'Lyndhurst is enjoyed by over 68,000 visitors annually, but few are aware of the significance and importance of the landscape and grounds they so enthusiastically enjoy. This book will enable them to gain appreciation for its importance and deepen their experience. It is a welcomed addition to any bookshelf on New York State history and will fill a void in scholarly attention to the landscape history of the Hudson River Valley.' John H. Braunlein, Director, Lyndhurst ***

About the Author: Robert M. Toole is a landscape architect whose private practice in Saratoga Springs, New York, initiated in 1975, has specialized in historic landscape study and restoration while also providing design services on a variety of landscape design projects, including campus planning, environmental assessments and many private residences.

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This product was added to our catalog on Friday 11 May, 2012.

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