About the Charles F. Gillette Photograph Collection

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Charles Freeman Gillette (1886-1969) is nationally recognized as one of the premier landscape architects associated with the restoration and re-creation of historic gardens in the upper South and especially Virginia. Gillette established a regional style—known as the "Virginia Garden"—characterized by its understated classicism and attention to detail. He linked architecture and landscape in a manner seldom found today, not only emphasizing the traditional features of landscape design but also carefully shaping each of his creative outdoor environments to complement the most distinctive elements of his clients' homes and broader surroundings. Although Gillette most often developed domestic landscape designs for individual clients, much of his work also included large-scale corporate, educational, and government projects.

Born in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin, Gillette by 1909-1911 was serving as an apprentice in the office of Warren Manning, a leading landscape architect at the turn of the century. Gillette married Ellen Cogswell in 1912 and moved to Richmond in 1913 to supervise the completion of Manning's landscape design for the University of Richmond's new campus. In 1915 he began designing the grounds of the Nelson House in Yorktown and in 1924 commenced work on the landscape restoration of Kenmore in Fredericksburg. A few years later, he initiated plans for the landscaping of Virginia House and Agecroft, both reconstructed English manor houses located in Richmond's Windsor Farms neighborhood. Extensive additions to the Virginia House gardens were completed in 1939. During the 1950s, Gillette redesigned the gardens of Virginia's Executive Mansion at the request of Governor Thomas B. Stanley as well as designed the grounds for the Richmond headquarters of the Reynolds Metals Company and the Ethyl Corporation. His commissions also included hundreds of residential projects throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

The Gillette Photograph Collection consists of 892 images, all part of the collection of Charles F. Gillette Papers at the Library of Virginia. Approximately 200 photographs are the work of either Harry Bagby or George Moffett, both professional photographers. The images primarily depict Virginia houses, estates, gardens, and other landscape design projects. There are also many personal photographs of Gillette, Ellen Cogswell Gillette, and the various homes in which they lived.

Related Resources

Bender, Steve. "Peace of the Country." Southern Living 29 (June 1994): 82-83. [Description of an Orange County, Virginia, home landscaped by Charles Gillette.]

Charles F. Gillette Forum. Celebrating Garden Genius: A Handbook to Selected Gardens by Charles F. Gillette. Richmond, 1992.

Gillette, Charles F. "Journal of Charles F. Gillette and Photographs Taken by Him on European Trip, June 18-August 1, 1912." Frances Loeb Library, Graduate School of Design, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Microfilm Copy (Film #1257), Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

Gillette, Charles F. Papers, 1918-1969. The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Va. [The collection includes approximately 7,000 drawings as well as nearly 50 cubic feet of correspondence, client files, personal papers, photographs, and other materials.]

Gillette, Charles F. Photographs, 1905-1970. Special Collections Department, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Lilly, Rachell M., and Rueben M. Rainey. "The Country Place Era in Virginia: The Residential Site Planning of Charles F. Gillette." Landscape Journal 11 (fall 1992): 99-115.

Longest, George C. Genius in the Garden: Charles F. Gillette and Landscape Architecture in Virginia. Richmond: Virginia State Library and Archives, 1992.

Search Tips

Punctuation and capitalization are disregarded. Entries in this database are arranged in letter-by-letter alphabetical order. In addition to the regular searches, you may click on any highlighted element of a database record (such as a subject) to initiate a search on that element. Each record in the Charles F. Gillette Photograph Collection database consists of:


Personal names in the database are base searched by the Basic (keyword) search using Words Anywhere.

The following name appears in most records and should not be searched :


Many titles have been supplied by the cataloger. Other titles are found on the back of the photographs themselves. In general, title information is brief.

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If the date the photograph was taken is known, it has been recorded in the database record. Notes often contain date information pertaining to the subject of the photograph such as when a house was built. Dates are keyword searchable.


Notes contain information about the subject of the photograph which is sometimes extensive and sometimes very brief. Client control numbers assigned by the Library of Virginia and by Gillette himself are also recorded in notes. All of the information in the notes is keyword searchable.

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Image Numbers

Image numbers were arbitrarily assigned to the photographs as they were cataloged and are visible only in the MARC display.  These numbers are keyword-searchable.

Examples: image numbers:

The image number always consists of "gp" plus 5 digits.

Subject Headings

Each record contains several subject headings which may be names, places, structures, or other topics:

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