Elm Bank represents well the country house movement of the early twentieth century. A farm begun in the mid-eighteenth century, the property sits on a peninsula surrounded on three sides by the Charles River. In 1870, Benjamin Cheney, president of the American Express Company, acquired Elm Bank, building a new residence in 1874 and developing elaborate gardens. His daughter Alice and her husband, William Baltzell, replaced the earlier Shingle Style mansion with a brick Georgian Revival house designed by Carrère and Hastings in 1907. Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. designed new gardens between 1914 and 1927. The Metropolitan District Commission owns Elm Bank and leases part of the property to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society, which is restoring buildings for educational programs and creating horticultural display gardens on the property. Sadly, the mansion remains boarded up with no immediate plans for use, unlike the grounds, where gardening and athletics abound.
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Elm Bank, Baltzell House
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