For many decades, the grounds of the Allis-Bushnell House and its gardens have offered a peaceful setting for contemplation in the midst of the historic village district of Madison.
However, during the Fall of 2019 and throughout 2020, the Madison Historical Society is undertaking a restoration of the tiny pocket of beauty and solitude we offer within our quarter-acre back lawn. One of the few green areas remaining in the downtown village district, it will be reimagined as a vest-pocket park for the entire community, as well as for MHS members and visitors.
Together with local nurseries, arborists, and lawn and garden contractors, garden designer Lucy Van Liew and landscape architect Roger Engle are creating an extensive plan for the project. It will include a new lawn, a new patio, and a new parking area, all with an eye toward universal access for all visitors. We thank them for their expert creativity.
Since 1975, the Garden Club of Madison, which cares for our front border, also shouldered all financial and physical responsibility for the maintenance of a lovely herb garden in this space. Now they have graciously ceded this responsibility back to the MHS, as the Society plans its transformative rehabilitation of the entire landscape. We thank them for their good stewardship, and we look forward to welcoming them back to help us care for and enjoy a new herb garden in 2021.
During some phases of the restoration, access to the back of the property may be limited or restricted after January 2020. For your safety, please respect all barriers and signage.
When the project is complete, the grounds will once again be accessible to visitors throughout the year from dawn to dusk.
In 2021, new areas with planned potential as rental venues will be available for private use by prior arrangement.
All revenues from rentals will fund the maintenance of the property and will fund the preservation and protection of the MHS’s collection of 6,000-plus historic objects.
Donations to help fund the garden restoration are appreciated at any time. Please call the MHS office at 203.245.4567 for further information on how you may designate a gift for this purpose.
On the topic of gardens, gardening, and the culinary and medicinal uses of herbs in the early American experience, researchers may enjoy the following books, which can be found on line or in reprinted editions:
Breck, Joseph. The Young Florist, or Conversations on the Culture of Flowers and on Natural History. Boston: Russell, Odiorne, & Co., 1833 (reprint: Opus Publications, Guilford, Connecticut, 1988).
Bridgeman, Thomas. The Young Gardener’s Assistant. New York: Booth & Smith, fourth edition, 1833.
Favretti, Rudy J. Early New England Gardens: 1620—1840. Sturbridge, MA.: Old Sturbridge Village, 1974.
Favretti, Rudy J. and Joy P. Favretti. For Every House a Garden: A Guide for Reproducing Period Gardens. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1990.
Favretti, Rudy J. and Gordon P. DeWolf. Colonial Gardens. Barre, MA.: Barre Publishers, 1964.
Favretti, Rudy J. and Joy Putnam Favretti. Landscapes and Gardens for Historic Buildings: A Handbook for Reproducing and Creating Authentic Landscape Settings, 2nd edition. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press, 1997.
Punch, Walter T. ed. Keeping Eden: A History of Gardening in America. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1992.