1872 - 1960

Rose Standish Nichols


Born in Boston, Rose Nichols was the eldest of three daughters of Dr. Arthur Nichols and his wife Elizabeth Homer (a distant relative of Winslow Homer). Nichols was one of the country’s earliest professional garden designers and the author of three outstanding books on garden history, as well as an antiques connoisseur, a social reformer, and a confirmed pacifist. In the early 1890s, her uncle, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, suggested she take up landscape architecture as a profession. She trained with Charles Platt (a Cornish Art Colony neighbor), studied horticulture at Harvard’s Bussey Institution, and drawing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After designing a large walled garden at Mastlands, her own garden in Cornish, her first client was her Beacon Hill neighbor, Ellen Mason of Newport, Rhode Island. Many of Nichols’s commissions were in Lake Forest, Illinois, where she collaborated with architects Howard Van Doren Shaw and David Adler, both followers of Platt. Her work there includes House of the Four Winds for Hugh McBirney and Haven Wood for Edward Ryerson. Other commissions range from Montecito and Tuscon to Georgia and the New York-New England area. Most of her gardens are no longer extant, but traces can be found at the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, Milwaukee (the former Lloyd R. Smith residence), the former John T. Pirie Garden and House of the Four Winds in Lake Forest, and Grey Towers National Historic Landmark (the former Gifford Pinchot residence). Her style was formulated on English formal gardens, influenced by American Colonial Revival gardens and Italian and Spanish ideas, all based on her travels abroad. Nichols was the author of English Pleasure Gardens (1902), Italian Pleasure Gardens (1923), and Spanish and Portuguese Gardens (1924) and a frequent contributor to House Beautiful.