The Timeless Elegance of Greenwood’s Teahouse

Greenwood’s grounds feature not only breathtaking displays of horticultural splendor, but also original stone structures that exist in harmony with the topography of the site. Tucked discreetly into the slope on the east side of the gardens resides one such structure – the enchanting Teahouse.

This two-story garden folly, set between the Summerhouse and the Cascade on the Teahouse walkway, adds dramatic fairytale flair to the east side of the gardens. Crafted in the early 1920s by visionary landscape architect and artist Willliam W. Renwick, who was commissioned by owner Joseph P. Day, the Teahouse was inspired by the vernacular-style garden houses and belvederes built during the Arts and Crafts era that flourished from the 1880s until 1914.

Teahouse circa. 1924

Constructed from indigenous basalt or lava rock, this rustic stone shelter boasts a grotto on the lower level decorated with Rookwood tiles on the walls and ceilings, and a floor lined with geometric patterns of pastel-colored tiles manufactured by Fulper in Flemington, New Jersey. The original sink and fireplace which were used in the Day era for family teas are also still intact.

The grotto in the lower level of the Teahouse

On the exterior of the Teahouse, horseshoe steps wind around the structure from its base, leading to the upper level and the South Axis gardens. Five granite frogs from the Day’s original collection of ornaments grace the entrance to the Teahouse, while whimsical limestone chess piece sculptures ascend the stairway – delightful additions made by the Blanchards after 1950. Small openings were designed to allow vines to clamber up the façade of the Teahouse, adding a natural allure throughout the summer season. The final touches include a conical roof that boasts copper roof coursing, decorated with masques and a regal chimney that rises above the Teahouse roof.

The entrance to the lower level of the Teahouse

When you visit Greenwood this season, take a moment to not only revel in the beauty of the Teahouse, but the other structures, fountains, statuary, and gardens that grace the property. With something to experience around every corner, Greenwood is a destination not to be missed!