Crowninshield Garden

The Crowninshield Garden may be viewed from the Eleutherian Mills Terrace - the garden is not open for public visitation. 

The Crowninshield Garden is a ca. 1920s neoclassical garden built on the terraced ruins of Eleutherian Mills.

The garden defies stylistic categorization and simple explanation, with no known commissioner, hired designer, or original garden plan, appearing to have been constructed slowly over the course of a decade by local craftsmen and by the home's last residents, Louise du Pont Crowninshield and her husband, Francis Boardman Crowninshield. The Crowninshields attempted to create exact scale replicas of architectural features they had observed on their travels in Rome.

The garden has a sophisticated planting scheme with complex layers of spring blooms more commonly associated with English horticultural traditions––and well within the legacy of the du Pont family’s predilection for gardens of exquisite beauty and ornament.

Significantly, this was a garden of intentional ruin, with cascading layers of Italianate pools, columns, statuary, and colonnades crafted to appear worn away by time. No known classical garden in the United States to date has been so purposefully built to convey the patina of time. Today, the site retains the simultaneity of an industrial ruin, a carefully manufactured classical ruin, and an actual garden ruin, and is thus perhaps the most meta-textual garden in American history: a ruin within a ruin within a ruin. The Crowninshields built classical features over industrial features, interpreting and reflecting the history and use of Eleutherian Mills even as they reinvented it.

Washington Post article about the Crowninshield Garden (2021-08-18)