Seventh Stop

The Seaside Garden

As mentioned earlier, the Tod estate joined two islands together. The island to the west has twin peaks. The Seaside Garden occupies the northern peak and Innis Arden House, the southern peak. The Tods commissioned Marian Cruger Coffin to design and build the walled garden in 1918, when, as her career was blossoming, she became a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Notably, Coffin worked with Henry Francis du Pont to perfect the gardens at Winterthur in Delaware. In 1930, she received the Architectural League of New York’s highest award for landscape architecture for her designs for the Wing estate in Millbrook, New York, and the Bassick estate in Fairfield, Connecticut.

Coffin, while raised in the upper class, was herself impoverished by her father. Only homeschooled, she applied to and was rejected by MIT until she was sufficiently tutored to compete in advanced studies. She graduated from MIT in 1904 as one of only four women in architecture and landscape design among a student body of 500.

 In 1945, the Garden Club of Old Greenwich restored Mrs. Tod’s walled garden. In 1964, the Knollwood Garden Club assumed responsibility for the care and preservation of the garden, reputed to be the only publicly-owned seaside garden on the Atlantic seaboard. Under the chairmanship of Mrs. Donald Ambler, the Knollwood Seaside Garden, as it then became known, was completed in a little over four years.