Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Garden Design - Gates in 17 to early 19C America

Bowling Green Gate at George & Martha Washington's Mount Vernon

From George Washington to Lund Washington, 10–17 December 1776. (from "Falls of Delaware So. Side) If I never did, in any of my Letters, desire you to Plant locusts across from the New Garden to the Spinning House as the Wall is to run from the end of the Sunk Wall (& on that side of it next the Quarter) as also as the other Wall from the old Garden gate to the Smoke House or Hen House (and on the lower side of it) I must request it now in this Letter. let them be tall and strait bodyed and about Eight or ten feet to the first Limbs—plant them thick enough for the limbs to Interlock when the Trees are grown for Instance 15 or 16 feet a part."

George Washington. March, 1793. "The advantage of this latch is, that let the Gate swag as it may, it always catches. The top of the flat Iron ought to shew, that strangers may know how to open it on either side but there is not the least occasion for the round like that at the Gumspring, nor of the Curl like those at the White Gates"

In William Waller Hening's, The Statutes at Large, Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, From the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (Richmond: 1809-1823) In early Virginia gates were a subject of legislation in 17C: "Whereas the dispatch of busines in this country is much obstructed for want of bridleways to the severall houses and plantations. It is enacted by this grand assembly and the authority thereof, that every person haveing a plantation shall, at the most plaine and convenient path that leades to his house, make a gate in his ffence for the convenience of passage of man and horse to his house about their occasions at the discretion of the owners.

William Byrd, II, 1720, describing Westover on the James River, VA: “...the Governor came. . . & there came with him Colonel Ludwell, the Secretary & his son, & John Randolph. I received them at the outer gate & about six we went to dinner...”

Samuel Sewall, 1721, describing his garden in Boston, MA: “... the wind rose to a prodigious height...It blew down the southernmost of my cherubim’s heads at the Street Gates.”

John Bartram, 1739, describing Westover, seat of William Byrd II, on the James River, VA: “Col Byrd is very prodigal in Gates roads walks hedges & seeders [cedars] trimed finely..." 

In the Joseph Ball Letter Book at Williamsburg, , he describes a gate in 1743 Virginia, “I would have a new Great Gate made out of the Stuff that I have ready Sav’d for that purpose: The Back & fore parts, that the the [sic] bars are to be mortois’d into, to be of Locust; which must be falln, & ly to Season awhile, to keep it from splitting. And let it be Cross-brac’d, & pinn’d Cleaverly to keep it from Saging; & let there be a Good Latch & Catch put as Low as the old one, to keep it fast, that hogs may neither go in nor out: & give charge, that it be always kept Shut: & indeed it must be so hung as the old one was, & kept Greas’d, that it may Shut itself. And I would have the old Gate, hinges & all, well mended & sent up into the Forrest, & well hung there, with the posts Large, & a Crosspeice at top; & sat, at least, three foot in the Ground; & well [illeg.] & a Large Cill laid in the Ground; the upper Side not to be above two Inches above Ground.”

The Virginia Gazette.  July 3, 1746, To be SOLD, ON Tuesday the 8th Day of July , in the Borough of Norfolk , the Prize Ship Providence , together with her Guns, Rigging, Tackle, Apparel, and Furniture; also her Cargo consisting of ... a Set of Iron Palisades and Gates curiously wrought...

Queen Anne's Free School Minutes, March 21, 1740; Southam Parish, Powhatan County, Virginia Vestry Book, Virginia State Library, "The Gate to be five feet in wedth …" 

1769 Chester Parish Vestry Book a parish churchyard in Kent County, MD : “...make one good framed double gate each frame with good pine paling the said Gate to be hung to good locust posts with good iron hinges with an iron latch & ketch.”

Constantia [Judith Sargent Murray], 1790, “Description of Gray’s Gardens, Pennsylvania:” “If we proceed straight forward, we pass through an elegant arched gate, which seems to be guarded by the figure of a satyr, extremely well painted.”

Benjamin Latrobe, 1798, describing a prison at Richmond, VA :“The front Walls were built as high as the Ground line, & considerable progress had been made in erecting the Gate. . . The Gateway is carried up to its utmost highth, & will be perfectly finished during the winter. It contains two lodges for a porter & Guards, & on each Wing, a bath & storeroom, on the East for the Women, on the West, for the Men.”

Thomas Jefferson, 1804, describing improvements for Monticello, (Massachusetts Historical Society, Coolidge Collection): “A gate at the entrance of the garden, having a green house below.”

Benjamin Latrobe, 1806, describing a sculpture created for the Navy Yard, Washington, DC “[Italian sculptor Franzoni is] now engaged in a...Colossal for the Gate of the Navy Yard.”

Charles Drayton, 1806, describing The Woodlands, seat of William Hamilton, near Philadelphia, PA : “A common post & rail fence, [not in sight from the house,] winds from the public road gate, & joins to the garden fence, which is a double sloped ditch, with a low fence of posts & 3 rails. ... One is led into the garden...by a small gate contiguous to the house, traversing this walk, one sees many beauties of the landscape—also a fine statue, symbol of Winter, & age,—& a spacious Conservatory about 200 yards to the West of the Mansion.”