The Trustees of Reservations have completed the first phase of a multiyear public garden rejuvenation project at Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens (formerly Stevens-Coolidge Place) in North Andover, Mass. The site has undergone significant investment to the historic gardens and houses while also adding new visitor amenities. The planning was done in conjunction with Mikyoung Kim Design and Maryann Thompson Architects.
“We are thrilled to see the investment in Stevens Coolidge House & Gardens begin,” said Cindy Brockway, 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 — guests will no longer have to cross busy Andover Road to access the property. 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 a former maintenance shed that now features classroom space, a gift shop, and 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 opened April 22 with 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. (Please note that all times have sold out.) After this event series, the gardens will continue to evolve and transform as the seasons progress, allowing all to experience something different and exciting each time they visit.
The historic house has undergone significant conservation projects and will reopen to the public for tours and self-guided experiences in the summer.