The sketch below, done by a Union soldier, shows the landscape in front of you as it looked in 1863. During the Civil War, this was the rear of Chatham—a functional space unadorned with gardens or architectural finery. Union soldiers had cut down whatever trees stood here. Graves of men killed at Fredericksburg dotted the yard.
During the 1920s, Chatham's owners moved the main entryway from the river side to the fa?ade in front of you. They also moved the formal gardens to this side, hiring America's foremost female landscape architect, Ellen Biddle Shipman, to design the new landscape.
Shipman, the daughter of a Civil War general, designed more than 650 gardens during her career, and many consider her work at Chatham to be among her best. Although Chatham's last private owner made significant changes to the gardens, many of Shipman's original design elements are still present: classical sculpture, pathways, the rose arbor, and parterre beds.