Landscape History Fellowship: Estate Gardens

Landscape History Fellowship: Estate Gardens


Newport, Rhode Island, located at the southern tip of Aquidneck Island, is surrounded by the Atlantic waters of Narragansett Bay. The mild maritime climate along with loamy, upland soils make for prime agricultural land which has been prized for centuries. When the first English colonists arrived in Newport in the seventeenth century, they found land cultivated by the Native peoples for crops of maize, squash, and beans. During the Colonial era, Newport land was redeveloped using European models: farms, orchards, grazing meadows, nurseries, and pleasure gardens gave rise to Newport’s reputation as the “Eden of America.” By the mid-19th century, Newport was primed to blossom into the “Queen of Summer Resorts.” As a burgeoning and fashionable summer colony, the Colonial-era landscape was reconfigured by subdivision and the construction of showplace cottages unsurpassed in their architecture, interiors and gardens. A windswept and rugged coastal landscape became blanketed by a dense arboretum that enveloped boulevards, velvet lawns and refined gardens. This transformation was driven by the concentration of immense wealth, the coming of age of landscape architecture as a design discipline, newly available exotic nursery stock and emerging technologies in greenhouse design and landscape equipment.

With institutional efforts already underway to present our landscapes as integral to an understanding of life in Newport during the Gilded Age, The Preservation Society’s 2022-2023 Landscape History Fellowship will examine the estate landscapes, designs, and maintenance of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with specific focus on stories that relate to or support Preservation Society sites. The Fellow will research the original and evolving horticultural displays, along with the people who designed, supported, and maintained these impressive features that were created for peak enjoyment during a mere six weeks of the year due to the social season, while the job of an estate gardener or gardeners would be a year-round obligation. Remnants of these designs, support structures and stories are quickly disappearing, and this fellowship will be critical in capturing data and narratives before they are lost forever.

To be eligible for the 2023-2024 Landscape History Fellowship, a M.A. degree is required in Landscape Architecture, Landscape Design, Urban Planning, Architectural History, Horticulture or relevant field. 

To Apply & Notification Dates

Step 1: Prepare Materials

Application form:
Complete the application form, click here.
Project proposal:
Please provide an abstract (250-500 words) describing your interest in the project, qualifications to undertake the proposed scope of research, and ability to realize deliverables. We welcome preliminary ideas and resources you would use to approach the chosen subject. Please keep in mind that there may be restrictions to visiting archival collections considering the ongoing pandemic.
Curriculum Vitae:
Please provide a copy of your current curriculum vitae.

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Membership is open to all who have an interest in the history of the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life.

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SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610