35 Mountain Road
Farmington, CT 06032 | 860.677.4787
Open year-round: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 am – 4 pm
The last house tour is at 3 pm.
Grounds open daily 7:30 am – 5:30 pm.
Hill-Stead is one of the nation’s few remaining representations of early-20th-century Country Place Estates. From 1898 to 1901, pioneering young female architect Theodate Pope (1867–1946) transformed 250 acres of thin-soiled, rocky New England farmland into a picturesque landscape that supported a working farm and also reflected the refined tastes of a wealthy and widely-traveled family. Theodate was only 31 when she begandesigning and building Hill-Stead’s Colonial Revival-style house (in collaboration with the New York architectural firm McKim, Mead & White). Completed in 1901, the house served as a retirement home and country house for Theodate’s parents, Alfred and Ada Pope, and as a showcase for the family’s collection of French Impressionist paintings, furnishings and decorative arts. Landscape designer Warren Manning assisted the family with the overall landscape conception, which includes miles of stone walls, transplanted mature trees, a walking garden, a Sunken Garden and, until Theodate’s death in 1947, a working dairy and orchards.
After World War I, recently married to diplomat John Riddle, Theodate Pope Riddle wanted to redesign Hill-Stead’s formal, Neo-Classical-style Sunken Garden, and turned to influential landscape designer Beatrix Farrand, with whom she had previously collaborated on the plans for Westover School in Middlebury, CT. Farrand’s challenge was to develop a plan to transform the original design into something structural yet informal. The result – which we see today, thanks to the hard work and research of volunteers, staff and garden clubs, starting in the 1980s – is a garden of lyrical beauty, with height and drama. Plants along the brick paths around the summer house start as low, fragrant swirls of annual verbena, heliotrope and lavendar, then increase in height to 5-foot stands of rue, giant Solomon’s seal, boltonia and lilies. Visitors are greeted with drifts of blooms in blue, pink, salmon and white – colors influenced by the Impressionist paintings in the house.
For admission information and directions, visit www.hillstead.org.