The Petersons. Photograph by Thomas Wedell.
The Petersons. Photograph by Thomas Wedell.

When Jean and W. Scott Peterson purchased Tranquillity Farm in the 1980s, they understood that the Middlebury, Connecticut, property would be a challenge to steward, yet they appreciated the singular beauty of their twenty-five acres and all that it could become. Since then they have restored the ornamental farm’s rich cultural legacy, which includes designs by Charles Eliot, John Charles Olmsted, and Warren H. Manning. In 1923, Ellen Shipman designed a rose garden below the house terrace as a foreground to the breathtaking view of Lake Quassipaug.

Tranquillity Farm was originally a 303-acre model farm developed by John Howard Whittemore and his wife, Julia Spencer Whittemore, who turned to the prestigious Olmsted firm for guidance in the layout. The Petersons bought the property after the original house had been removed, renovating the carriage house as their residence and restoring other buildings, preserving original garden furnishings, and leasing a portion of the land to a local farmer. Thyrza Whittemore, a great-great-granddaughter of J. H. and Julia who grew up at Tranquillity Farm, recently collaborated with the Petersons to rework portions of the Shipman garden. Over time, the Petersons and Thyrza became familiar with LALH’s mission and developed a passion for the history of American landscape design that goes well beyond the boundaries of Tranquillity Farm.

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