Brandegee Estate

BrandegeeEstate_signature_AaronHelfand_2013.jpg
Brookline, MA
United States
Brandegee Estate

This sixteen-acre estate straddles the boundary between Boston and Brookline. Originally an approximately 150-acre ornamental farm, the property was inherited by Mary Bryant Pratt, the granddaughter of Boston shipping magnate William Fletcher Weld in the late nineteenth century. In 1891 Pratt married Charles Sprague and the couple hired Brookline-based landscape architecture firm Olmsted, Olmsted & Eliot to design their garden, but tension between Charles Eliot and the Sprague’s resulted in the firm’s dismissal. In 1896 Charles Platt was retained to design the garden. He had recently published a book entitled Italian Gardens (1894), and the resulting design at Brandegee Estate, inspired by Villa Gamberaia in Settignano, outside Florence in Tuscany, incorporated revivalist themes and formal design elements from his book. The Platt plan included grass terracing and a balustrade that aligned with the rear of the main residence, formal flower gardens, and a curving pergola at the end of a formal walkway. A woodland garden was installed on a hillside above the house. Seen as a departure from popular contemporary landscape design movements such as City Beautiful and Picturesque, the estate proved to be trend-setting for Italianate garden design in America and helped launch Platt’s career. The estate is named for Mrs. Sprague’s second husband, Edward Brandegee.

Largely intact, the residence and formal garden have been used for institutional purposes and as a location for events since the 1970s. Under private ownership, the Brandegee Estate was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.