America’s Eden

GBP £39.95



ISBN: 978-1-911282-50-1

304 pages

305 x 254 mm (10 x 12 in)

325 colour illustrations

In association with The Newport Tree Conservancy

January 2022


A fascinating and beautifully illustrated publication on the landscape, history and representation of Newport, Rhode Island, through the ages

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In 1789, Jedidiah Morse described Newport and its environs as the “Eden of America” in the First Geography of the United States. In the nineteenth century landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted created dramatic gardens by the sea for his wealthy clients, and artists from John Frederick Kensett to Henry James and Thornton Wilder celebrated the city as a verdant paradise in painting, poetry, and prose.

America’s Eden: Newport Landscapes through the Ages builds on the city’s iconic reputation as a centuries-old paradise, and establishes Newport as a cultural landscape of national significance. The comprehensive history from European settlement to the present day is illustrated by a treasure trove of rare period maps, paintings and photographs by prominent artists, and drawings and sketches by leading designers.  The book serves as a critical resource guide encompassing landscape architecture, fine art, tree and plant propagation, and the conservation of natural sites. A rich story of art, history, design and horticulture awaits readers among the gardens, gazebos and trees of Newport.

Author biography

John R. Tschirch is an award-winning architectural historian and Honorary Member of the Garden Club of America. His career in historic preservation has brought him across the globe to study and teach at cultural heritage sites and landscapes. John’s work in preserving and interpreting historic places has been featured in The New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, and Martha Stewart Living, and he has appeared on the A&E documentary series, America’s Castles. His publications include Newport: The Artful City (2020) and Gods and Girls: Tales of Art, Seduction and Obsession (2019). For more on John’s work, visit his website at

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
  • Acknowledgments
  • A Note from the Author
  • Introduction: America’s Eden
  • A Land Blessed and Cursed: Topography, Geology, and Climate
  • From Eden to Eternity: An Historical Overview
  • Paradise of New England: The Colonial Era and Early Republic
  • Case Study: Seeing, or Recording, the Land: Changing Perspectives on Mapping Newport
  • Genteel Landscapes: Romantic Villas and Rustic Views
  • Touro Park
  • Case Study: The Horticulturists
  • The Art of Scenery: Design in the Age of the Picturesque
  • The Gilded Age: Estate Gardens and Urban Forests
  • Case Study: Blooming Beauty: Floral Culture and Fashion during the Gilded Age
  • Working Landscapes: Gardeners and Greenhouses
  • The Age of the New: Modernism in the Landscape
  • Living Legends: Newport’s Historic Trees
  • Case Study: The Sentinels of Eden: An Arborist’s View of Newport and Its Trees
  • Eden Preserved and Propagated
  • Conclusion: The Legacy and Future of Eden
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Picture Credits