Three generations of Van Vlecks, a family of architects, built this beautifully proportioned suburban Italianate villa featuring high quality collections of rhododendrons, azaleas, and other broad-leaved evergreens. The Garden Conservancy assisted the owner of the property, the Montclair Foundation, in the rehabilitation and management of the garden to continue the Van Vleck family’s commitment to community, education, and horticultural excellence.
1884: Van Vleck House & Gardens are developed as a private estate for the Van Vleck family. Three generations of Van Vlecks, a family of architects, continue to live on the six-acre property. The garden's evolution over the decades produces a strong representation of ericaceous plants, with rhododendrons and azaleas being particular favorites
1916: The main house that now graces the Van Vleck grounds is designed and built by Joseph Van Vleck, Jr. It recalls the classic architectural style of a Mediterranean villa
1939: Howard Van Vleck plants a Chinese wisteria that still climbs around the pillars of the back portico. Howard Van Vleck's interests reach beyond gardening and garden design to include scientific aspects of horticulture. He hybridizes rhododendrons, working to create a clear, yellow-flowering variety. A number of his hybrids survive as special elements in the garden and several have been registered and named for Van Vleck family members
1993: The heirs of Howard Van Vleck family donate their home and gardens to the Montclair Foundation. The house is renovated and becomes a self-supporting center for nonprofit organizations and plans are drawn to preserve the gardens as open space for the public and for horticultural education
1997: The Van Vleck Gardens become a Preservation Project of the Garden Conservancy
1999: The Friends of Van Vleck Gardens is formed to help support the general operating cost of maintaining the gardens
2003: Sonia Uyterhoeven, a Marco Polo Stufano Fellow, renovates the formal gardens and documents the history of the gardens
2006: On an evening in July 2006, members of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and concert guests return to their homes after an idyllic evening of music on the lawn of Van Vleck House & Gardens, when the weather changes dramatically. A strong microburst moves directly through the historic property. The violent storm destroys the northeast corner of the garden, ripping apart mature, historic rhododendrons, as well as other shrubs and smaller plants, and shattering a 100-year old tree.
2008: Restoration of the northeast corner is completed. A master plan for the gardens outlines the creation of new garden spaces for the property
The gardens are open dawn to dusk.
Admission and Tours
$3 donation suggested
The garden is located at 21 Van Vleck Street in Montclair, New Jersey 07042. Telephone 973.744.4752
For directions and additional information, visit the Van Vleck website.