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Collection Highlights: Historic Landscape

In 1990, a major restoration project was undertaken to restore George Eastman's house and gardens, and the 25-minute documentary A Picture Perfect Restoration recorded every step. This clip features Nancy R. Turner (trustee and chairman of the Garden Restoration Committee) and the late Georgia Gosnell (trustee and chairman of the House Restoration Committee).

Rock and Vegetable Gardens

Nearly three acres of the estate were planted in vegetables, small fruits and an orchard. Cows grazed in the orchard behind the barn and the chickens searched for food in the poultry yard on the west side of the vegetable garden. While the Rock Garden was farther from the house than most of the other gardens and less formal in design and materials, it was a destination that served as a picturesque resting area providing shade from the sun and shelter from the wind and rain. It included a Grape Arbor that supported juice grapes and had benches where guests could sit after a stroll through the property. The main image below was made using a Cirkut camera, a rotating panorama camera first manufactured in 1905 by a company owned by Eastman Kodak.

Terrace and Vista Gardens

The Terrace Garden is the most formal of the gardens with 23 beds surrounded by short boxwood hedges. With daffodils, tulips, and over ninety different perennials and annuals, the garden was in bloom from April to frost. In contrast, and only steps away, was the bucolic Vista with a gently rolling lawn and informal shrub and tree borders. With easy access from the living room, conservatory, and dining room, the Terrace Garden was the most used and photographed garden on the estate. Eastman entertained guests and held business receptions here. Visiting children watched for gold fish in the sunken lily pond, played on the Terrace Garden’s crisscrossing walks, and ran on the Vista lawn. And it was the prime spot for family, friends and business colleagues to pose for photographs.

West Garden

When George Eastman bought the two-acre neighboring property to the west in 1916, he hired architect Claude Bragdon to design a garden that would be viewed from the billiard room on the first floor of the house and his bedroom on the second floor. While there are many photographs of the wisteria in bloom on the Loggia and the tulips in the beds, the collection has only three photographs of people in the West Garden taken before Mr. Eastman’s death in 1932. Two are pictures of a women looking at the flowers and the other is of a solitary gardener. This was a peaceful garden for quiet contemplation.