Horatio Hollis Hunnewell (1810-1902)

Horticulturalist & Philanthropist

Banker and patron of New England horticulture, H.H. Hunnewell is remembered for his generous support of institutions like the Arnold Arboretum, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the botany departments at Harvard and Wellesley. 

His estate, Wellesley, was world-famous for its collection of rare evergreen trees and an Italian topiary garden.  The estate survives today in large part to the efforts of Walter Hunnewell, a former president of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the great-grandson of H.H. Hunnewell.  In addition to preserving his family’s estate, Walter Hunnewell helped to conserve land owned by the town of Wellesley and volunteered for the town’s parks department.  The Massachusetts Horticultural Society posthumously awarded Walter Hunnewell the Gold Medal, its highest honor.

H. H. Hunnewell estate, topiary section on the shore of Lake Waban, Wellesley, Massachusetts (1909).

The Hunnewell Estate was hailed as a model of landscape design.  Henry Winthrop Sargent, a friend of design critic Andrew Jackson Downing, edited and supplemented Treatise on Landscape Gardening following Downing’s death. One of the additions that Sargent included in the sixth edition the Treatise was none other than the estate of Horatio Hollis Hunnewell at Wellesley.

From this we pass along to the lake to the Italian garden…and which is the most successful, if not the only one as of yet in the country.  The effect, especially by moonlight, of the lake seen through the balustrades of the parapet, and among the vase and statues which surmount it—with the splashing of the fountain, and the very unique features, at least in this country, of
the formally clipped trees and topiary work, quite lead us to suppose we are on the lake of Como.

Henry W. Sargent

Horatio Hollis Hunnewell is buried in his family's tomb in lot 3799 on Iris Path in Mount Auburn