Blithewold's Site History 

                The Enclosed                                     The Bosquet                      The Wellhead                               The North Garden

PRIMARY THEMES

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In developing the site history and considering how Blithewold relates to other historic properties of the era, a number of themes have emerged.

Blithewold has a rich legacy, which has evolved over time. While features from the past 120 years are most evident, the underlying layers from more than 400 years of continuous land use can still be traced on the land. New owners have shaped the property to meet their own needs, just as fires and hurricanes have created dramatic transformations. New gardens were created, plantings have matured and new programs have been developed to serve its changing mission from private to public enjoyment.

Unlike many estates of the period, where earth was moved and forests were planted to shape Nature to the tastes of its owners, landscape gardener (who sometimes referred to himself as a landscape architect) John DeWolf and Bessie Van Wickle McKee subtly transformed the natural topography and vernacular landscape structure at Blithewold that date to Colonial times. Some landscape features, such as the Enclosed Garden, appear to have been in place since the mid-19th century, before it was purchased by the Van Wickles. Bessie’s vision of creating “an estate in which new beauties are constantly revealed, and the perfect accord between architecture and grounds is ever apparent” remains in evidence today.

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    From Our Blog

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