Gardens for Good: Sylvester Manor Educational Farm

December 2021 update

Sylvester Manor Educational Farm, on Shelter Island, NY, has been home to eleven generations of its original European settler family since 1651. It reflects a remarkably intact history of America's evolving tastes, economies, and landscapes. Over time, Sylvester Manor has been transformed from a slaveholding plantation to an Enlightenment-era farm, to a pioneering food industrialist's estate, and today, to an organic educational farm.

Through an internship funded by the Garden Conservancy's Gardens for Good program, University of Massachusetts Amherst Masters in Landscape Architecture candidate Anna Kellerman is producing a Sylvester Manor Landscape Study for the historic site.

Anna's research of the roses alone has made the study a great success. As part of preservation planning for the 1737 Manor House, Anna thoroughly researched the plantings around the structure and was able to identify the rose climbing the porches as a rambling rose cultivar, 'American Pillar'. She learned it is one of three cultivars still available of the 27 cultivars developed by Walter Van Fleet (1857-1922) in the late 1800s. Van Fleet likely knew Sylvester Manor proprietors Phoebe and Eben Norton Horsford through Harvard University. Their daughter, Cornelia, renovated the Manor House and porches in 1908, the same year Van Fleet introduced the 'American Pillar'.

Learn more about Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.

Sylvester manor house with roses 2
Gardens for Good: Sylvester Manor Educational Farm

Rosa 'American Pillar' on the east porch; photo courtesy of Sylvester Manor Educational Farm