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Garden & Gun – Homeplace: Country Retreat

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Ben and Libby Page’s introduction to Giles County, Tennessee, came in the spring of 2004, when Libby’s mother decided it was time to educate the family about its roots and created a “Family History Day.” The Nashville-based clan piled onto a bus and headed south toward Pulaski, where they toured nearby farms and family homesteads, accompanied by a historian. By the end of the day, Libby, an event planner, and Ben, one of the South’s leading landscape architects, had become so smitten with the terrain—leafy rolling hills dotted with picturesque barns and nineteenth-century farmhouses—that they asked the fellow leading the tour to let them know if any property ever became available. Two weeks later, the call came. Two years later, the couple, along with their daughter, Florence, spent their first night at Brookside.

They named the house, a three-bedroom Greek Revival built around 1845, after an Italianate Revival manse a mile away, rebuilt after the Civil War by Libby’s great-grandmother. Libby describes the “new” Brookside as having been generally “buggered up” by various twentieth-century owners, the most glamorous of them a New York couple who held polo tournaments on the property during the fifties and sixties. During the Pages’ two-year renovation, the house was taken down to its studs, with the exception of the living room, the only space that retained the original plaster walls. Builders restored a back staircase, as well as a now-enclosed breezeway that joins the house to the spacious kitchen. A side porch that had been walled in was returned to its original state (albeit with a screen), and a utility area was added with an enormous soapstone sink, the first repository for vegetable and flower cuttings from the gorgeous garden. Below, the cellar was restored and converted to a game room with a custom banquette and an 1880s maple pool table the Pages found in Wiscasset, Maine.

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Our Favorite Pages

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Ben Page began collecting books over 30 years ago about architecture, interior design, landscape architecture and horticulture as well as biographies about the pioneers in these arenas – Olmstead, Jekyll, Birnbaum, Page.  Many were purchased at a small bookstore in New York City that is, sadly, no longer in business.  Ben continues collecting to this day and has amassed a library of well over 1,000 volumes, including several first editions.  A Vanderbilt librarian was secured years ago to log all of the books with the Dewey Decimal system and create a full card catalog.  The collection continues to be a passion of Ben’s and we look forward to sharing more in the months to come about some of the wonderful volumes contained in the Page Duke library.

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The travels of a mature tree

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The luxury of a mature native tree canopy has always appealed to a discerning cross section of clients of PAGE | DUKE landscape architects. Whether working among the tall longleaf pines of South Georgia, the majestic live oaks of the coastal south or the climax oak forests of the upper south, mature native trees have always held connotations of continuity, permanence, and quality. When a client comes to PAGE |DUKE desiring these characteristics, and the site does not naturally have those attributes, we know that there are professionals who can come to the rescue with a solution – tree movers!

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