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The Mather Homestead property originally consisted of 100 acres, which is what it took for a family to sustain itself.  The working farm included vegetables, flax and wheat and farm animals providing milk, eggs and meat.

By 1906, when Stephen Tyng Mather became the sole owner of the Homestead, the property consisted of 22 acres.  Stephen, his wife Jane, and their baby daughter, Bertha, first occupied the house in the summer of 1907.  In addition to making changes to the house, they added a sunken garden in 1909 which still exists today.

This garden was designed by none other than Walter Burley Griffin, who was both an architect and a landscape architect.  As a member of "The Prairie School," he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright and oversaw the construction on many of Wright's houses. Wright met Stephen Mather when they were both members of the Prairie Club of Chicago which, among other things, sought to "raise public awareness of special areas and to create an interest in their conservation."  In 1911, an international competition was held for the design of a capital for Australia.  Walter and his partner and wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, entered the completion and won.  They emigrated to Australia in 1914 and did not return.  

Upon Stephen Mather's death in 1930, his daughter, Bertha, inherited the house.  She changed the sunken garden to be a bit less formal in 1938.  The plans were prepared by Lilian Egleston of Elizabeth, NJ, where Bertha's mother grew up.  Bertha added a the terrace around the well and additional plantings in 1962. Bertha cared for the gardens until her death in 1993.

Fast forward to today ... Thanks to the efforts of Mather Homestead volunteers, the gardens have been restored and beautified. Please email us if you would like to help us with our gardens.

In 2020, a new barn-like structure, the "Elizabeth W. Chilton Education Center," was added to the property.  The Mather Homestead Foundation is grateful to the Garden Club of Darien, who generously contributed foundation plantings to the barn and continues to care for the plants.   

The Garden Club of Darien selected plantings for the Elizabeth W. Chilton Education Center with considerations of sunlight, water, deer resistance, pollinator attraction, color, size and other growing conditions. Plants include Ilex, Viburnum, Spirea, and more. The Garden Club of Darien and Mather Homestead are grateful for the expertise of Ungemack-Mccool Landscape Associates, Inc. for their help with this project.   LIST OF PLANTS


Dicentra eximia (commonly known as Fringed Bleeding-Heart)


Ilex glabra ‘Gem Box’ (commonly known as Appalachian Tea, dye-leaves, evergreen winterberry, gallberry, and inkberry)


Iris germanica  

(commonly known as German Bearded Iris)


Spiraea Tor 

(commonly known as Meadowsweets)

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Mather Homestead Gardens circa 1929.jpeg

Sunken Garden early 20th century
Pictures by Herbert W. Gleason.

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Lilian Egleston garden plans 1938

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Sunken Garden today


New "Elizabeth W. Chilton Education Center" with plantings donated, planted and maintained by the Garden Club of Darien.

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© 2017 by The Mather Homestead Foundation. 

19 Stephen Mather Road, Darien, CT  06820

Mailing address:  PO Box 1054, Darien, CT  06820, 203-202-7602

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