Elm Bank Horticulture Center

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Elm Bank
Elm Bank, Wellesley, MA - Goddesses and Mansion.JPG
Elm Bank Horticulture Center is located in Massachusetts
Elm Bank Horticulture Center
Location Bounded by the Charles River to the W, N, and E, and the carriage path to the S, off 900 Washington St., Dover, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°16′34″N 71°18′9″W / 42.27611°N 71.30250°W / 42.27611; -71.30250Coordinates: 42°16′34″N 71°18′9″W / 42.27611°N 71.30250°W / 42.27611; -71.30250
Area 182 acres (74 ha)
Built 1876
Architect Carrère and Hastings
Olmsted Brothers
Architectural style Late 19th And 20th Century Revivals, Neo-Georgian;Georgian Rev.
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 86003565[1]
Added to NRHP July 10, 1987

The Elm Bank Horticulture Center is the home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, located at 900 Washington Street (Route 16), Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States. The center occupies a 36-acre (15 ha) portion of Elm Bank Reservation, former estate grounds with open fields and meadows, streams and pools, wooded areas and formal gardens, managed as a 175-acre (71 ha)[2] recreational area by the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.[3] Although the estate's entrance is in Wellesley, most of its grounds are located in Dover.


Elm Bank was given its name in 1740, when Colonel John Jones acquired the land and planted elms along the banks of the Charles River. The site was later occupied by the Loring, Broad, and Otis families before being sold for $10,000 in 1874 to Benjamin Pierce Cheney, founder of a delivery company that became American Express. At the time of Cheney's death in 1895, the property contained over 200 acres (80 hectares), and passed to his eldest daughter Alice in 1905.[4] In 1907, Alice and her husband, Dr. William Hewson Baltzell, engaged the architectural firm of Carrère and Hastings to design a Neo-Georgian manor house. They also commissioned the Olmsted Brothers firm, the most prominent landscape designers of the era, for the estate's site planning and to design new gardens and improve existing ones.[5] In the 1940s, the property became a seminary housing a group of Stigmatine Fathers, who constructed a school building and ran a summer camp in the 1960s and 70s. Later, Elm Bank served as the home of the Quinobin Regional Technical School.


The entire estate site was added to the National Register of Historic Places as Elm Bank on July 10, 1987,[1] and is currently owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In April 1996, a portion of the site was leased to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for its headquarters.[5] The society began to charge a visitor fee to support the garden's preservation and the organization in 2010.[6] Special events use, such as garden weddings, supplement this also.[7]


The distinct gardens featured at Elm Bank include:[8]

Weezie’s Garden for Children

A series of small spiraling gardens, each giving visitors the opportunity to plant, water or interact in some way with the garden’s elements. Children’s classes are held throughout the spring, summer and fall in this special garden.

The American Rhododendron Society Garden, at Elm Bank.
New England Trial Garden

A cooperative effort between the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Flower Growers’ Association and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Breeding companies from all over the world contribute Annuals for viewing by amateur and professional Gardeners. This garden also tests unreleased varieties competing for All-America Selections awards, displays previous winners, and grows hundreds of cultivars submitted for evaluation by commercial plant breeders.

Italianate Garden

Restoration of the 1926 Italianate Garden was based on the original plans from the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, together with a numbered plant list - and even receipts - for the original trees and flowers planted in the garden.

Display Gardens and Tree Nurseries

The Noanett Garden Club, the New England Chapter of the Herb Society of America, and the American Rhododendron Society maintain collaborative demonstration and display gardens at Elm Bank. The Day Lily Society installed a garden in 2004.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ "2012 Acreage Listing" (PDF). Department of Conservation and Recreation. April 2012. Retrieved January 30, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Elm Bank Reservation". MassParks. Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  4. ^ "History of Elm Bank". Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "History". Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  6. ^ BBrown (June 3, 2010). "Mass Hort to charge $5 to view Elm Bank gardens". The Swellesley Report. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Weddings and Functions at the Gardens at Elm Bank". Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Gardens at Elm Bank". Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Retrieved May 15, 2011. 

External links[edit]