The Palisades, NJ
1871 - 1928

Charles Wellford Leavitt, Jr.

Born in Riverton, New Jersey, Leavitt received a private education at the Gunnery and the Cheltenham Military Academy. From 1891 to 1896, he gained experience in various aspects of civil engineering while working for the Caldwell (New Jersey) Railway; the New York Suburban Land Company; the town of Essex Fells, New Jersey; and the East Jersey Water Company. In 1897, he opened his own firm in New York City, variously identifying himself as a “landscape engineer” (reflecting his engineering background) and a landscape architect. Leavitt worked on a wide range of projects, including private residences, estates, school campuses, and cemeteries. His many park designs include a system of parks and parkways along the Cooper River in Camden, New Jersey, and among his designs for horseracing tracks were those at Belmont and Saratoga, New York. He also designed Palisades Interstate Park, along the Hudson River, and served as its chief engineer for over a decade. Anthony Morell and Arthur Nichols joined Leavitt in the early 1900s, prior to opening their own practice (Morell & Nichols). In the early 1920s, Leavitt’s firm became Charles Wellford Leavitt & Son, with the addition of his son, Gordon. Leavitt became a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1904, and held memberships in the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Institute of Consulting Engineers, serving as president of the latter in 1923. He published articles about residential landscapes in Country Life and House and Garden, and he taught in Columbia University’s incipient four-year landscape design program, beginning in 1912. Leavitt passed away suddenly at the age of 57, at the height of his career. Despite his son’s attempt to maintain the firm, it closed by the early 1930s.