Rose Standish Nichols (1872-1960)

Landscape Architect, Women's Suffragist, & Peace Activist

Rose Standish Nichols (1872–1960) was a notable American landscape architect hailing from Boston, Massachusetts. Over her career, Nichols worked with approximately 70 clients both domestically and internationally. She collaborated with notable figures such as David Adler, Mac Griswold, and Howard Van Doren Shaw, among others. In addition to her design work, Nichols authored articles on gardening for popular magazines like House Beautiful and House & Garden and published three books on European gardens.

Born to Arthur H. Nichols and Elizabeth Fisher Homer Nichols, Rose was the niece of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. Her siblings included Margaret Homer A. Shurcliff, who married Arthur Shurcliff, and Marian Clarke Nichols.

Rose Nichols spent the majority of her life at 55 Mt. Vernon Street in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood, now home to the Nichols House Museum, which she helped to found.

55 Mount Vernon Street, Boston Massachusetts

Although she began her studies at MIT in 1899 as a special non-degree student, she completed only a few courses there. Her education included extensive travel in Europe, where she visited renowned gardens such as those at Hampton Court Palace in England. Around 1921, Nichols served as Chairman of the Committee on the Garden Club of America for the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Her first commission came in 1895 when she designed the garden for her family’s summer home, "the Mastlands," in Cornish, New Hampshire. The design featured a formal garden with a piazza, low stone walls, a central apple tree, a low pool, and curved benches. This project was featured in Guy Lowell’s 1902 book, "American Gardens."

Nichols favored the Beaux-Arts style, creating serene, cohesive, and accessible garden designs. Her work is found in Georgia, Arizona, California, and notably in Lake Forest, Illinois, where many of her projects were featured in "Classic Country Estates of Lake Forest."

Nichols' literary contributions include her 1902 book "English Pleasure Gardens," followed by "Italian Pleasure Gardens" (1928) and "Spanish and Portuguese Gardens" (1924). These guidebooks showcased Europe's lesser-known gardens, with illustrations and photographs by Nichols herself. Her extensive travels and social connections enabled her to document and critique European gardens, resulting in over fifty published articles in magazines such as House Beautiful, Horticulture, and House and Garden.

Apart from her architectural work, Nichols was a dedicated peace activist. She founded The League of Small Nations, a discussion group with members including Mabel Harlakenden Hall Churchill and Edith Wilson, which was a precursor to the Foreign Policy Association. Nichols attended various peace conferences in Europe and played a role in establishing the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.

In 1919, she was elected an officer of the Boston Equal Suffrage Association. In 1937, Nichols participated in an event by the New York Society of the Descendants of Signers of the Independence Declaration.

Rose Standish Nichols is buried at Mount Auburn in Lot 4561 on Clethera Path.