the property includes, from
left, the 1898 mansion, the
greenhouse added in the
1900s, the newer pool house,
and pool. A sculpture of
weathering steel (facing page)
by 20th-century artist Clement
Meadmore is set amid
perimeter plantings on the far
side of the pool. Nearby stands
a distinctive, low-hanging
Camper elm tree. New
existing plantings throughout
A 19th-century Newport, Rhode Island, mansion
set on a 1½-acre property off storied Bellevue Avenue would seem ideally suited for outdoor entertaining. But one couple with just such a
house found it difficult to enjoy alfresco entertaining on what should
have been magical evenings.
“The house had no terrace, just a grassy slope leading from the
house down to the pool,” says one of the homeowners. “When enter-
taining, it was a mess navigating that slope.”
The owners turned to landscape architect Katherine Field of
Katherine Field and Associates in Newport to transform their outdoor
space. “The challenge was to work with two levels and make a connec-
tion to the pool while making sure whatever we did was in keeping with
the house,” says Field, whose design team included Katie Parent.
“The homeowners have very refined taste, they do a lot of entertaining, and they have an important sculpture collection,” says Field.
Her plan called for a bluestone terrace and steps, reimagined pathways
landscape architecture katherine field and associates
88 DESIGN NEW ENGLAND •MARCH/APRIL 2010
throughout the grounds, and a new pool surround — all designed to
resonate with the formality of the house. The brick Queen Anne-style
mansion was designed in 1898 by the Boston firm Peabody & Stearns,
which also was responsible for Boston’s Custom House Tower. A greenhouse was added in the 1900s.
The terrace sets the tone: The choice of monolithic bluestone,
versus a natural cleft stone, conveys formality by virtue of its precise
cut, while the proportions — a generous 22-foot-by-52-
foot expanse — suit the mansion’s scale. Because the
homeowners often host large fund-raisers under a tent,
Field worked with a local company to design permanent
anchors in the bluestone. And to emphasize the connection from house
to pool, the terrace’s bluestone pieces were set at an angle that leads the
eye toward the water.
Field relied on the house for guidance and inspiration. For example, the paving around the pool has a circular bump-out that echoes
the outline of a rounded turret.
Bluestone walls flank the steps leading from terrace to pool and feature
a cascading motif inspired by decorative porch brackets.
Landscape architect Kate Field’s
plan for the historic Newport
property used hardscaping
elements (shown in gray) to
connect the existing house,
greenhouse, and poolhouse
(shown in light brown). A
bluestone terrace, steps, and pool
surround are the key elements.
Serpentine walkways that connect
the house to greenhouse, and
greenhouse to pool, were also
redone in bluestone.
Symmetry in the landscape, as in
the treatment of boxwood hedges
around the terrace, now reflects the
house’s formality. And planters
placed at the four corners of the
pool’s bluestone surround add
articulation. “Whenever you have
symmetry and simple plantings,” says
Field, “it becomes a formal expression in landscape.”