Photo courtesy Hott Productions


Fletcher Steele & Naumkeag
A Playground of the Imagination

Between 1926 and 1955, landscape architect Fletcher Steele and his client Mabel Choate created many new gardens for Naumkeag, the Choate family summer estate in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The new designs echoed the basic layout of earlier gardens created c. 1885 by Nathan Barrett for the original Stanford White “cottage” but transformed them into playful and poetic settings where Choate and her guests, Fletcher Steele among them, could find respite and inspiration.

A vibrant relationship developed between Steele and Choate, and it grew over the thirty years they worked together. They began their collaboration with Naumkeag’s Afternoon Garden where Steele tried out ideas inspired by the 1925 art deco exposition in Paris. The partners soon progressed to other areas of Naumkeag: South Lawn, Chinese Temple Garden, Blue Steps, and the last of their creations, the Rose Garden. Each of these designs reflects the tempo of its time while connecting visitors to the beauty of the Berkshire Mountains, visible from any part of the landscape. Now open to the public, Naumkeag is truly a playground of the imagination.

You can read more about Fletcher Steele and Naumkeag in: Fletcher Steele, Landscape Architect, A Genius for Place, and Design in the Little Garden.

Created in association with Florentine Films/Hott Productions, Inc.