After the Cambridge Historical Society received the c. 1685 Hooper-Lee-Nichols House as a bequest in the late 1950s, the Society reached out to the Plant Club and the Garden Club for help with the garden. In 1962, the Garden Club began its efforts by designing a landscape plan that was simple and a miniature representation of the estate that once surrounded the house. One of the garden’s most significant features – the yew hedges – go back to the original Garden Club plan.
Over many decades, CP&GC has worked at the site on many elements of the gardens: donating and planting trees, renovating the c. 1916 Colonial Revival fence and front gate, planting thousands of spring bulbs, restoring the garden’s grape trellis, managing lawn care, and completing myriad spring and fall garden clean ups fundinf pruning, and more.
The Hooper-Lee-Nichols House, c.1685, is the second oldest house in Cambridge and is home to the Cambridge Historical Society, a private nonprofit dedicated to sharing the stories of Cambridge. The building houses staff offices, historical and archival collections, and serves as a gathering space for the Society’s events.
The Cambridge Plant & Garden Club has been gardening here for decades, beginning in the early 1960s after the property was bequeathed to the Cambridge Historical Society. In 1962, the Garden Club responded by designing and installing a garden as a 25th anniversary project. One of the garden’s most significant features – the yew hedges – go back to the original Garden Club plan.
In the years that followed, CP&GC added many new pieces of including a very healthy little-leaf linden, and boxwood. Around 1990, CP&GC enlarged the gardens on the southern façade, improving the appearance of the garden as viewed from the street. Annuals and perennials compatible with the colonial and colonial revival periods of the house were planted with spring blooming bulbs that are replaced annually.
In 2010, two pink-flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida var. rubra) were added to the property’s east side and restoration of the Colonial Revival entrance gate was undertaken. Funds were raised, research compiled and construction drawings executed by club members. Work was completed in 2011, including custom hinges and mounts for the new gate, updated lighting, and brickwork reworked to accommodate the newly restored gate. A revitalized grape trellis is a garden highlight (c. 1916) and was restored with grant funding applied for by members of CP&GC. The grapevines continue to be tended by members with help from other Cambridge residents.
The garden has evolved over time, but the club’s commitment to it continues. Members continue to provide supervision and hands-on work for the Society as well as funds for professional landscape services.