National Register coordinators were invited to submit images of designed landscaes listed in the National Register that they think are among the best in their state.
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Photograph courtesy of Virginia State Historic Preservation Office
Reference Number: 13001161
Woods Hill: landscape architect Charles Freeman Gillette and a dwelling designed by architect Alan McCullough.
Charles F. Gillette, began his career in the office of Warren Manning and came to Virginia to work on the landscape design of the University of Richmond in c. 1912—he never left Virginia. In his book Genius in the Garden, Charles F. Gillette and Landscape Architecture in Virginia, George C. Longest writes, “The peak years of Gillette’s career as a landscape architect coincided with the height of the Country Place era, when wealthy property owners throughout the United States built impressive country residences surrounded by meticulously conceived gardens and dramatic vistas ….” At Woods Hill, Gillette demonstrated this “genius” in taking the undeveloped wooded site and creating a man-made naturalistic park-like setting in which he included an existing log cabin and rustic service station in the site design along with a newly constructed house and various secondary resources. By situating the large pond with the fields and forest beyond, he created “dramatic vistas.” George Longest continues, “Country Place landscape design demanded careful attention to detail, concern for proportion and scale, clear spatial organization, and a harmonious relationship between plan and planting – all elements in which Gillette excelled. His genius lay in his adaptation of traditional forms and styles to the requirements of the Virginia climate and countryside.” At Woods Hill, Gillette’s sense of proportion, scale, and spatial organization is evident by his layout of the landscape. His use of the curved drives, the walled courtyard for parking and entry, and the brick courtyard on the garage level with its curved steps are just a few of the ways he defined the space of the areas closer to the house.
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