Planting Fields Foundation will be hosting the family-friendly “Paradise At Planting Fields,” with events for children, from, 12 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23 and Sunday Jan. 24, in the Winter Garden, known as the Main Green House.
Admission is fee with events for children and families.
The large Winter Garden, an indoor garden with tropical trees planted as a quasi-natural landscape, was built 100 years ago. It was the first significant building project by Mr. and Mrs. W. R. Coe after they bought the Planting Fields estate in 1913. The building is one of the last surviving examples of a private winter garden in the Northeast typical of the sort that had first been constructed by the British in the 1830s.
Private winter gardens were built for the pleasure of wealthy owners, to entertain their family and friends. The Main Greenhouse at Planting Fields was erected by the prominent firm, Lord and Burnham, and was designed by the Boston architect, Guy Lowell, with later additions by the Olmsted Brothers.
The idea of setting up a Garden of Eden (an earthly paradise that mocks the winter scene outside) is an age old dream which became possible in nineteenth century England with the invention of iron and glass buildings heated by coal stoves. For the very wealthy the fashion spread throughout Europe and the US. For such a greenhouse, the construction, purchase of plants, upkeep and the heating were very expensive. A winter garden, like a big house with an art collection, became one of the recognized signs of high social standing.
At Planting Fields, the Main Greenhouse was commissioned by Mr. W. R. Coe, who was born in England and came to the United States as a teenager. He made his fortune in marine insurance. His wife, Mai Rogers Coe, was the daughter of Henry Huttleston Rogers, one of the founders of Standard Oil. Mrs. Coe’s inherited fortune was considerably larger than her husband’s.
The Planting Fields winter garden was started in 1914 just months before the outbreak of World War I, after which the wide spread tradition of building large estates on Long Island came to an end. This greenhouse is an extremely rare surviving example of its type, and as time goes by becomes increasingly important historically.
Come and enjoy the sultry atmosphere and tropical vegetation, banana trees, palms, guava, cocoa and orange trees, orchids, begonias and dozens of other “indoor” plants.
Mr. Coe sold Planting Fields, the 409 acre estate for $1 to the State of New York, and it is now a New York State Park, partly supported by Planting Fields Foundation.
Coe Hall, the mansion open 12 to 4 p.m., $5 admission fee, children under 12 are free.