The Historic Sunken Garden at Grace
The Sunken Garden has been on these grounds since 1916 when the property was part of the estate of Herbert M. Plimpton. The entire Plimpton property had been landscaped in 1895 by Frederick Law Olmsted, along with the adjacent Winslow property (Herbert Plimpton was married to Frances Winslow). From looking at the landscape plans which are in the Olmsted Museum, it appears that the present site of the Sunken Garden was originally a rose arbor, beyond which was a horse stable.
The Sunken Garden was added in 1916 and was designed by Arthur A. Shurtleff (also found as "Shurcliff"), a protege of Olmsted and at one time a member of the Olmsted firm. Shurtleff is probably best known for his design work in the restoration of the gardens at Williamsburg, Virginia.
The property has been owned by Grace Church since 1959. The Sunken Garden was totally overgrown and had fallen into disrepair and ruin by the time a group of parishioners made the decision in the early 1990s to restore the garden. Work on the restoration of the garden progressed slowly over the next decade. In recent years the front stone wall, built of bluestone, has been repaired, the inner square and walkway has been reestablished, and the fountain basin in the center of the garden has been restored. Grace Church continues to work to restore this historic garden to its original beauty.
Proceeds from the annual plant sale go toward the restoration, maintenance and plantings of the Sunken Garden - a true historical treasure of the community of Norwood.