In conjunction with inspired visionaries Mikyoung Kim Design and Maryann Thompson Architects, The Trustees has improved the visitor experience at Long Hill, in Beverly, and Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens, in North Andover, via new entrances, pathways, and infrastructure. The expansion of the gardens at these properties, both created and lovingly cared for by their owners more than a century ago, represents a horticultural evolution that retains the legacy of those individuals while passing on the heritage of the gardens to future generations.
Stevens Coolidge House & Gardens
With new buildings, landscape structures, and double the garden space, Stevens-Coolidge is a property steeped in history that seeks to honor its history while evolving new spaces and attracting the next generation of admirers.
“We are thrilled to see the investment in Stevens Coolidge House & Gardens begin,” said Cindy Brockway, our Cultural Resources Program Director. “Building on the garden transformation and visitor programming begun by our dedicated staff and volunteers, these investments will transform the property into a celebration of the beauty of horticulture inspired by the legacy of the Stevens and Coolidge families. New, interactive garden and program spaces will welcome audiences to explore its garden rooms, step into its historic house, and come back repeatedly to enjoy with the whole family.”
The first change visitors will notice is the new entrance and parking lot off Rte. 125 (Chickering Road). Guests will no longer have to cross busy Andover Road to access the property. This new entrance allows full use of the site’s 91 acres, and visitors will park overlooking Helen’s Meadow, named after the property’s namesake Helen Stevens Coolidge. Guests then experience the Entry Garden with ornamental grasses, purple coneflower, and other plants native to New England as they arrive at the new Garden Gateway building—crafted out of an old maintenance shed that now features classroom space, a gift shop, and a snack counter.
The walk along Helen’s Meadow toward the main house features new crescent-shaped “land sculptures” formed using excavated soil and carpeted with grass and 60,000 grape hyacinth bulbs that bloom in spring and resemble an ocean wave. Next is the Wetland Garden featuring flourishes of golden marsh marigolds in spring, scarlet cardinal flowers in summer, and purple asters in fall. Educational signage will be installed stressing the important role wetlands play in New England ecosystems.
A new boardwalk through the naturalistic wetlands leads to the more formal legacy gardens that encircle the house. While the hedge hemming a straight path past the relocated Cutting Garden is reminiscent of Colonial Revivalism, it features a contemporary twist as it is made of native hornbeam rather than traditional European hornbeam. This path leads guests to The Promenade—a new, formal passageway to the house featuring a double row of dogwood trees underplanted with North American native phlox.
“We’re making this property more dynamic and more alive so that visitors can discover it in a new way,” Brockway said.
The season opens April 22 with sold-out Spring BloomFest, a series of events featuring 165,000 spring bulbs showcasing tulips with names like Moonlight Sensation and Candy Princess that will burst with color and texture inspiring visitors of all ages. The gardens will continue to evolve and transform as the seasons progress, allowing for a different and exciting experience each time they visit.
Rendering of Gateway Center at Stevens-Coolidge House and Gardens
While Stevens-Coolidge focuses on the artful displays of beauty and color to inspire an initial appreciation for gardening, Long Hill is a hidden gem where people can hone their interest in and appreciation for the science and technical expertise of horticulture. Its poetic charm is largely influenced by the souls of the women who shaped it—Mabel Cabot Sedgwick, an accomplished horticulturist, and Marjorie Russell Sedgwick, a rare plants specialist.
“We’re very much looking forward to seeing Long Hill transform over the coming months into a world-class public garden,” said Long Hill Portfolio Director Jared Bowers. “Our newly planted pergola and terrace, in particular, are going to look fantastic and will provide a new covered space that can also be used for educational programs and other events. We’re excited to share this area with our visitors and the local community.”
While meticulously researching Long Hill’s history, it was discovered that the property’s gardens originally included expansive views from its hilltop settings. In early 2020, four vistas that linked the gardens and the house to the horizon beyond the hilltop were cleared of the growth that shrouded the view. The rediscovery of those views will be a focal point as planning continues throughout the fall. The orchard will also be transformed through the removal of invasive species and the reclamation of its lush meadow understory.
A new garden room at the property, designed by Julie Moir Messervy Design Studio, opens in June. Located at the nexus between the Main House, the Sedgwick Gardens, and the Main Loop Trails, this garden room offers opportunities to showcase a new and exciting, horticulturally rich, and sustainable landscape design. A new journey will be created from the Croquet Lawn to the woodland beyond, using a unique design and materials that will both entice and wow our visitors.
The elegant English-style country house will also be refurbished and the link between outside and inside will be maintained. Proving that gardens are often places that spark storytelling, Mabel Sedgwick’s brother traveled to Japan in the early 1900s as curator of Asian art at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. While there, he became enamored with the traditional Japanese garden, and during his travels to London, he found antique Chinese wallpaper from the early nineteenth century which he saved from being thrown away. He brought it back to Long Hill and hired an artist to fill in the gaps with streams, birds, cherries, and plants native to Long Hill. The Trustees had the wallpaper restored earlier this year, and Messervy, who also trained in Japan, worked this interior influence into her exterior design.
The existing farmhouse, barn, and adjacent spaces will be transformed into a new Horticultural Learning Center, with classrooms, demonstration gardens, and a new greenhouse. An array of new programs and activities for students, families, and adults will be offered to share this special place with the public.
Rendering of Messervy garden room at Long Hill