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Waldyn Receives 2024 Frederick Law Olmsted Award

An aerial shot of the grounds and home on the Waldyn estate featuring an inground pool and manicured greens.

Preservation Mass is excited to celebrate the 2024 Preservation Award winners, and our solo recipient of the Frederick Law Olmsted Award this year is Waldyn!

Built in 1915, Waldyn was originally the summer home of a prominent Boston banking family. The property was designed in a historic style that was popular in the Edwardian era with a landscape design that integrated closely with the house architecture. During the 20th century, numerous owners made changes to the original landscape design resulting in a compromised garden with serious maintenance issues and inappropriate design materials and features.

Much of the historic landscape was later in a compromised and deteriorating state. Through a multi-year effort from 2012 to 2023, the garden was restored to the original elegant design and provided 21st century amenities. By researching archival photos and plans, the landscape architecture team was able to determine which features were original and could be preserved or restored. As much as possible, the original elements were retained, and where missing, they were reconstructed to match the original design, including metalwork gates, wood fencing and trellises, and masonry accents such as pier finials and masonry design elements.

Working in close collaboration with the project architect and the owners, the landscape architecture team redesigned deteriorated features incompatible with the original design, including the swimming pool, pool house, and tennis court areas. New amenities were added, including a spa terrace, paved auto court, and formal vegetable garden in a style sympathetic to the original historic house and garden.

The work included historical research, master planning, landscape restoration plans, a new amenity design program, and on-site construction administration. The landscape design follows the stylistic forms that were common during the period of the original construction period. However, the later additions from the following century were also not dismissed as they had become part of landscape history and function over time. The project redid the later pool terrace and tennis court areas and added a new auto court. All of these features were found in homes of the period, so the team relied on historic design forms for these elements so that, although these were new features, they would complement rather than compete with the original design. The idea was to create a feeling of historical continuity and settledness to the garden in contrast to the disordered and disconnected condition in which it was found.

Whenever possible, the new design details were matched with the original details to maintain continuity of the historic landscape. This is reflected in the use of formal paving areas where cut stone terraces are detailed with pebble borders, the replication of a single existing gate detailing for the new ironwork gates, the reintroduction of a traditional formal vegetable garden, the use of traditional garden plants and planting design, and the cobblestone auto court in place of the original gravel one. The project incorporated sustainable landscape design practices, with a specific emphasis on stormwater management and water conservation. Care was taken to ensure the new paved areas did not add to runoff issues so extensive permeability studies were done and most paved areas are installed by traditional methods over a free - draining base. Drip irrigations were installed in new planting beds for water efficiency.

Waldyn stands as a model for the preservation and adaptation of historic home gardens in New England. The project demonstrates how preserving the built cultural heritage to a high professional standard combined with a collaborative design approach for sustainable ongoing use can successfully advance the lasting legacy of historic gardens that will enrich the lives of both current and future generations.


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