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Charles Platt Led the Formal English Garden Movement in Cornish, NH

I had wanted to visit Cornish, NH for several years. Quite happy that I made the trip just a couple of weeks ago when I took these photos at the home of the late nineteenth century sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Stepping into the garden was like visiting a museum made of his house, his landscape, and his art work scattered around the property.

Another resident, the early twentieth century architect Charles Platt (1861-1933) played an important role in the Cornish Colony. He designed both his own landscape as well as that of others.

Landscape historian Judith Tankard wrote in her book, co-authored with Alma M. Gilbert, A Place of Beauty: The Artists and Gardens of the Cornish Colony, “No one did more to mold the Cornish style of gardening than Charles Platt, the etcher-turned-architect.”

Platt’s style embodied the formal English garden in which there was renewed interest both in England and America at that time.  I saw that style represented in the Saint-Gaudens garden. Behind his house you can still see the extended lawn with its straight borders of perennials. [below]

Augustus Saint-Stephens garden in Cornish
Augustus Saint-Stephens garden in Cornish

As you walk the Saint-Gaudens property you also find his art work in areas that are cast in a formal garden design. Walls of clipped evergreens surround his bust of Lincoln and create a carefully manicured outdoor setting for the statue.  [below]

Statue of Lincoln at Saint-Gaudens House in Cornish
Statue of Lincoln at Saint-Gaudens House in Cornish

It was Charles Platt who encouraged that formal English garden fashion. Tankard concluded, “Few architects have surpassed Platt in his ability to so fully integrate house, garden and landscape into one harmonious whole.”


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