A RENAISSANCE REVISITED • Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s home, studio,
and gardens preserve the spirit of an American cultural movement
ittle more than a century
ago, this country was a confident nation that saw itself as the
cultural heir to ancient Greece
and Rome. In art and architecture, there was a newfound
interest in all things classical as
the American Renaissance was
born. In 1885, when one of its
most important sculptors, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, started
spending summers in rustic Cornish, New Hampshire, his
gravitational pull drew noted painters, architects, writers,
and even sitting presidents (both Theodore Roosevelt and
Woodrow Wilson summered in the area during their terms
in office) to what became a small artists’ colony.
Though the intensively private author J.D. Salinger lived
in Cornish until his recent death, few traces remain of the
once famous Cornish Colony — except the Saint-Gaudens
home itself, a cultural landscape of studio-galleries and sculpture gardens that is now a National Historic Site.
Saint-Gaudens greatly enjoyed planning, decorating,
and endlessly fiddling with the many buildings on the site
in Cornish, New
Hampshire. Tours and
programs Memorial Day
through October, $5.
Grounds open off-
season at no charge;
wild and hybrid grape vines provide shade for the Little
Studio’s pergola and also climb along the porch Augustus
Saint-Gaudens added to the 1817 farmhouse, seen across the
lawn. The American sculptor named the estate Aspet after the
town where his French father was born. The brick path beyond
the pergola leads to the formal garden.