Historic Landscapes

The Ground on Which We Stand

Author: Jeff Klee, Ph.D., CAHPT Vice President & Senior Director of Architecture

At all Classical American Homes properties, the setting is as important as the architecture and the furnishings: Charleston Harbor at Roper House, the Hudson River at Edgewater, the rolling hills of the Piedmont surrounding Ayr Mount, and the sand hills of Sumter County at Millford.

Landscape and fishing pond facing rear side of Ayr Mount. Captured by Thesis Content, 04/2021.

At each of our properties, the building is carefully situated to take best advantage of views, breezes, and natural light, while appearing at its best advantage from the approach.

Richard H. Jenrette recognized the importance of the landscape, as well, ensuring that the grounds at each of his houses were carefully maintained and spending hours ensuring that new buildings, such as the guest house at Edgewater, were sited perfectly.

He invested substantial resources to ensure that land around Ayr Mount would continue to be preserved as open space in perpetuity.

That care continues into the present, as we maintain hundreds of acres of grounds across our sites and as we initiate new research into their historic appearance.

Edgewater, Barrytown, Dutchess County, New York, built c 1820, improved and enlarged 1850s with addition by A.J. Davis

This work is particularly important at Edgewater, where the relationship between Robert Donaldson and Andrew Jackson Downing places that site at the center of the history of American landscape design and the development of the American suburb in the mid-nineteenth century.

This research will proceed below ground, as well, as we strive to understand the historic occupation of our property through archaeology.

Excavations promise to reveal essential information about the full range of occupants of our sites, including Native Americans and, for southern properties, their enslaved workforce.