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Ashintully Gardens History

Ashintully (Gaelic meaning “on the brow of the hill”) was the name given to the original 1,000-acre estate assembled in the early 20th century by Egyptologist and two-time state representative, Robb de Peyster Tytus from three farms in Tyringham and additional land in Otis.

On a hill overlooking the southern end of Tyringham Valley, Tytus built between 1910-1912 a white, Georgian-style mansion which came to be known as the Marble Palace among local residents because of the way the pure white sand that was used for the stucco reflected the sunlight. Its main façade featured four Doric columns and was spanned by thirteen window bays; its interior comprised thirty-five rooms, ten baths, and fifteen fireplaces. The mansion was destroyed by fire on April 20, 1952; only the front terrace, foundation, and four Doric columns remain today. In 1913, Tytus died at Saranac Lake, New York, leaving his wife, Grace, and two daughters, Mildred and Victoria. One year later, Mrs. Tytus married John S. McLennan, a Canadian senator, newspaper owner, and historian. She gave birth in 1915 to one child, John Jr., before subsequently being divorced.

In 1937, John McLennan (Jr.) acquired the estate, where he had spent all his childhood summers. He later moved into the farmhouse at the bottom of the hill, where he lived the rest of his life, renovating the nearby barn into a music studio. John McLennan became an accomplished composer of contemporary music, including chamber and orchestral music and pieces for piano and organ, and, in 1985, won an American Academy of Arts and Letters music award. John McLennan created, over the course of thirty years, Ashintully Gardens.

 

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