Located south of Burlington on the shores of Lake Champlain, Shelburne Farms is a 1,300-acre ornamental farm established in 1886 by Dr. William Seward Webb and his wife, Lila Vanderbilt Webb. The farm utilized the latest scientific farming practices to raise livestock, breed horses, and grow crops.
Between 1886 and 1889 Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. devised a tri-partite, farm-forest-park plan (working with Gifford Pinchot), with two-thirds of the property used as working farmland punctuated by isolated stands of trees. Eleven miles of curvilinear, crushed-stone service roads and eight miles of walking trails were laid out in harmony with the existing topography to take advantage of the picturesque views of the lake and the Adirondack and Green Mountains. Bordering the agricultural fields are 400 acres of hardwood and softwood forests. In the center of the property lies the estate’s parkland, which includes formal gardens and lawn and the vestiges of an 1894 golf course designed by Willie Park, Jr. The property also includes twelve miles of pebble-beach lakefront and structures designed by Robert Henderson Robertson.
Since its inception, Shelburne Farms has been in continuous farm production. In 1972, descendants of the Webbs transformed the sustainable farm practice into an environmental education center and protected the site with conservation easements. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980 and designated a National Historic Landmark District in 2001.