Beauport, Sleeper-McCann House, Landscape History
Standing at the gatehouse door, visitors get their first glimpse of the private domain of Henry Davis Sleeper. The garden, like the house itself, evolved over several decades in the early twentieth century. Today the landscape looks very much as it did in the late 1920s and early 1930s, when the grounds best reflected Sleeper’s plans.
The land surrounding the house, though small in size, nonetheless affords diversity of spaces that make the area seem far larger. Starting from the entrance, the treatments progress from a naturalistic style adapted to the contours of the site to a more formal style closer to the house, culminating in the brick terrace overlooking the water. Materials change from rough stone to more formal brick, the design moves from flowing lines to strict geometry, and plantings shift from naturalized native species to beds of specimen plants and hybrids.
Like the architecture and furnishings of the house itself, the garden with its intimate spaces and outdoor rooms is an integral part of Sleeper’s concept for his summer retreat. Its combination of straight and irregular lines, lack of pretension, small scale, and use of local materials are all characteristic of Arts and Crafts landscape design. Its charm is further enhanced by features often found in Arts and Crafts gardens—planters, a sundial, benches, and charming small carvings and statuary.
The garden was restored over three years, 2009 to 2012, to reflect the gardens of the late Sleeper and early McCann period, as part of a Save America’s Treasures project.