The gardens at Agecroft Hall in Virginia were designed by landscape architect Charles Gillette. Born in Wisconsin in 1886, Gillette knew early on that he wanted to work in landscaping. After attending the University of Wisconsin, he moved to Boston to become an apprentice to celebrated architecture landscape architect Warren Manning. Gillette worked with Manning for ten years, and in 1912 he caught the eye on Manning clients Elon and Blanche Hooker. The Hookers sent Gillette on a grand tour of the gardens of Ireland, England, France and the Netherlands. This tour was a big influence on Gillette’s designs going forward.
Before his tour, Gillette was working in Richmond, Virginia, on a landscape plan for the campus of Richmond College. He made several professional connections in the city, and became the preeminent landscape designer for the Mid Atlantic. In 1913, he established his own firm in Richmond, and his timing couldn’t have been better. Virginia had many new property owners who wanted to take part in the Country House Movement and surround their houses with beautiful gardens.
During his tour, Gillette took extensive notes on a variety of properties. When he returned to the US, he worked extensively on private residences, such as Agecroft Hall and neighboring Virginia House. He also did public garden designs at the College of William and Mary, the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, and Davidson College to name a few. His work had a great influence on the landscape of Richmond, and we are lucky to have his garden designs here at Agecroft Hall.