Arthur Asahel Shurcliff

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Arthur Asahel Shurcliff (1870–1957) was a noted American landscape architect. Born Arthur Asahel Shurtleff, he changed his last name in 1930 in order, he said, to conform to the "ancient spelling of the family name". After over 30 years of success as a practicing landscape architect and town planner, in 1928 he was called upon by John D. Rockefeller Jr., and the Boston architectural firm of Perry, Shaw & Hepburn to serve as Chief Landscape Architect for the restoration and recreation of the gardens, landscape, and town planning of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, a position he held until his retirement in 1941. It was the largest and most important commission of his career.

Shurcliff was born in Boston, Massachusetts, studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1889–1894), and upon the advice of Charles Eliot and Frederick Law Olmsted, enrolled at Harvard University for studies in art history, surveying, horticulture and design. After his graduation in 1896, he joined Olmsted's Brookline landscape architecture firm. In 1899, he aided Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. in founding America's first four-year landscape architecture school at Harvard University. He set up his own Boston practice in 1904. The following year, 1905, he married Margaret Homer Nichols, with whom he had six children. An early member of the American Society of Landscape Architects he later served two terms as its president(1928–1932).

In addition to the gardens, landscapes, and town planning of Colonial Williamsburg, his better known public works include the laying out of Old Sturbridge Village, the Charles River Esplanade, the redesign of Frederick Law Olmsted's Back Bay Fens and the zoological park at Franklin Park, all three in Boston. He served as a consultant to the Boston Parks Department, the Metropolitan District Commission and the Metropolitan Planning Board. More Boston works include the Paul Revere Mall (also called The Prado) in the North End, and the John Harvard Mall in Charlestown, both located along the Freedom Trail. Among numerous private commissions are included Carter's Grove and Wilton House Museum in Virginia, Greatwood Gardens at Goddard College, Plainfield, Vermont; the Wells brothers' estates at Sturbridge, Massachusetts (creators and funders of Old Sturbridge Village); the Brookview-Irvington Park, Lafayette Place, and Wildwood Park communities in Fort Wayne, Indiana; and the Richard Crane estate at Ipswich, Massachusetts.

Personal life[edit]

His wife, Margaret Homer Shurcliff (née Nichols), was the great, great, great-granddaughter of Thomas Johnson, the first person in America to build church organs as a regular business. They had a son, Sidney, born in 1906 who took school courses in engineering and automobile mechanics.[1]

External links[edit]

Fuller Gardens in NH


  1. ^ "Woman Bell Ringer". The Boston Globe. Boston, Massachusetts. June 30, 1919. p. 4 – via open access.


Cushing, Elizabeth Hope. Arthur A. Shurcliff: Design, Preservation, and the Creation of the Colonial Williamsburg Landscape. 2014. Amherst, MA: Library of American Landscape History and University of Massachusetts Press.