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Faulkner Farm (Sprague/Brandegee Estate)
Faulkner Farm, one of most influential and frequently published sites of the formal garden revival of the late nineteenth century, began as a Colonial Revival country house and grew into an Italian palazzo and garden. Mary Bryant Pratt, granddaughter of William Fletcher Weld, who owned the country's largest sailing fleet before the Civil War, married Charles Sprague in 1891. On land and with money inherited from her grandfather, Mary and Charles Sprague commissioned Herbert Browne to design a hilltop house and Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot to plan the grounds for a country estate off Allandale Road in Brookline. Browne completed a white-clap-boarded Colonial Revival house with formal entrance court, which the Spragues occupied in 1896. Friction over design control led to the firing of the Olmsted office in 1896 and the hiring of Charles A. Platt, a young New York artist who had recently completed a country house and garden for Sprague's doctor in Needham. In 1893, Platt had published Italian Gardens, the first book in English on that topic, using his own photographs and drawings as illustrations. The Platt plan included a broad grass terrace supported by a high retaining wall west of the house, a geometric flower garden with curving end pergola to the south, a woodland garden on the hillside above the house to the east, and a service court to the north. The clear geometry of the plan attracted many imitators.
Charles Sprague won election to Congress in 1896 but died in 1902. To make the house more appropriate for the Italian spirit of the garden, his widow invited Herbert Browne to encase the frame dwelling in brick, adding another story and a large ballroom and conservatory. The stable from the original Browne design survives near the Allandale Road entrance. The farmlands still produce vegetables sold at the roadside market below the mansion and gardens.
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