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The Temple Garden (Afternoon Garden) Pencil Drawing

The Temple Garden (Afternoon Garden) Pencil Drawing


Fletcher Steele

Mabel Choate Papers Regarding Naumkeag 1855-1958, The Trustees

Stockbridge, MA

In 1926, Miss Mabel Choate met landscape architect Fletcher Steele (1885-1971) at a Lenox Garden Club meeting. Thus began 30-year collaboration between Choate and Steele on the gardens at her Naumkeag estate in Stockbridge. The Afternoon Garden was Mabel Choate’s and Fletcher Steele’s very first collaborative garden design project. Referred to as Choate’s “joy and delight,” the garden is framed with 18 vibrantly colored Venetian Gondola poles and finials, providing definition to the garden boundaries without interrupting its sweeping mountain views.

The Trustees referred back to this 1929 sketch of the garden, and scores of other original documents, as they began an extensive project to restore the gardens in 2013. The multi-year, multi-million dollar effort was designed to bring the famed gardens back to their former brilliance and original design intent. The restoration team conducted extensive behind-the-scenes research and planning over many months, including the careful culling of hundreds of original design plans, historic photos, notes, letters and documents from Fletcher Steele and Mabel Choate in order to create a thorough and authentic restoration plan. The restoration work was completed in 2016.

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