A New England Guide to Historic Homes and Gardens

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  • Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

If you’re drawn to starry prints, bubbling Baroque fountains amid carefully overgrown gardens, and images of rolling hills dotted with farmhouses, then you might be a fan of Chalet Core. Downtown Abbey, Bridgerton, and Little woman created a new demand for decorative arts and antique ambiances, and the history, architecture and landscape of New England constitute the American epicenter of all things romantic at the heart of the cottages.

Historic homes in New England span different eras, representing hundreds of years of European decorative history and style. Whichever cottage era speaks to you, visit one of these historic homes and gardens to experience your Kate Sharma moment among the flowers. Please note, this is a BYOB wicker basket. And optional viscount.


Related: Cape Code’s Atlantis

Chalet Roseland

Equal parts Madonna Inn and Victorian Gothic, Chalet Roseland is a house museum operated by the Historic New England Consortium of Historic Properties. Its distinct pink exterior remixed with Gothic Revival windows and rooflines is the perfect backdrop for a whimsical photo shoot of modern and historic beauty. In spring and summer, the gardens are in full technicolor bloom, matched only by the magnificent stained glass windows inside the living room.

Aside from the stunning pink facade, Rosehill Cottage is home to some incredible oddities, including the oldest surviving indoor bowling alley in the United States, with bowling balls and antique bowling pins on display. Don’t forget to try the “behind the scenes tour” (an additional paid event) to see all the hidden nooks and crannies.

This site is quite easy to access by car and there is ample parking for visitors. You can even attend a concert in the gardens! Roseland Cottage is open from June to October.

  • Location: 556 Route 169, Woodstock, Connecticut 06281
  • Admission: $15 adults, $13 seniors, $7 students and children

Castle Hill on the Crane Estate

Do you like your cottages a little more seaside? Check Crane Estate in Ipswich, Massachusettsthe summer retreat of Chicago industrialist Richard T. Crane, Jr. While this historic home would put most castles to shame, the Cranes considered it their coastal cottage…it was the Gilded Age after all.

The scenic driveway is the perfect place to frolic – frolic being of course an essential tenant of the chalet’s core. There are various guided tours inside the house for an additional ticket, including one that takes you up to the rooftop dome. It offers stunning views of the driveway, with its Roman-inspired carvings, and the beach and seaside below. You can just feel the restorative tunes from there.

If you prefer a garden, the grounds are home to a real Italian garden below. This garden, and the estate itself, might look familiar to you – it served as the filming location for the Parisian and European scenes of Greta Gerwig’s 2019 film, Little woman. The property is managed by the Reservations Trustees, a non-profit organization that owns and operates a series of historic homes, farms, and art museums throughout New England. La Grande Maison is open from April to October on certain days, and the estate is open all year round.

  • Location: 290 Argilla Road, Ipswich, Massachusetts 01938
  • Admission: For land, $10 for adults, $5 for children (6-14) and free for children under 5; Visits to the house are extra

Bidwell House Museum

A little more classic cottage with gardens that will make hydrangeas envious, the Bidwell House Museum is a perfect place to explore the Georgian agrarian way of life. Bring your wide-brimmed straw hat and hike the trails surrounding the 18th-century house. Take some time to enjoy the meticulously restored gardens and be sure to check out the heritage vegetable garden for all the farm-to-table inspiration you’ll need to make this coq au vin, served on ancient China of course.

The museum is an independently run non-profit that hosts various events and tours throughout the year, including an annual fundraiser that showcases the park’s fantastical flowers. The Bidwell House is open from May to October while the grounds are open for year-round activities.

  • Location: 100 Art School Road, Monterey, Massachusetts 02145
  • Admission: The grounds and gardens are free, but donations are welcome; Tours are available by appointment and must be booked in advance.

castle in the clouds

As idyllic as it may sound, the castle in the clouds, also known as the Lucknow Estate, was the Plant family’s mountain getaway. The premise of this building’s architecture is one of harmony with nature and although the building boasts of all the modern conveniences of the early 20th century and luxurious interiors, the exteriors featured local materials from Maine and New Hampshire. Stone textures are present all around the property, achieving a pastoral mountain log cabin version of the chalet core. Bring your most beautiful shawl embroidered with flowers.

Castle in the Clouds offers stunning views of the forests and lakes below, and a modern visitor can dine at the Carriage House Restaurant, enjoy a casual sandwich and coffee ice cream, or hike around the property knowing that ‘they are high on a hill. The establishment is open from May to October. New Hampshire is also home to many living history sites, so while you’re there, check them out!

  • Location: 455 Old Mountain Road, Moultonborough, New Hampshire 03254
  • Admission: $20 for adults, $10-15 for children, veterans and seniors; The entries include both the land and the interior of the house.

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