Sage Place

Introduction | Exhibit Homepage | Credits

Above: Bailey’s wife, Annette, sits beside the greenhouse in back of Sage Place, carriage house / Hortorium in the background. Photograph by Liberty Hyde Bailey, direct digital scan from glass plate negative. Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum & Gardens, South Haven, Michigan, and online here. Below: “A Home Greenhouse,” in L. H. Bailey, ed., The Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture (1900), vol. 3—F-K, second edition, pl. LI, and here.

“We fear that the garage is taking the place of the greenhouse, and that the sensation of rapid movement has a stronger appeal than the meditative quiet of handwork in a little glass house. We deplore the passing of this kind of greenhouse with the interesting range of plants and appliances that went with it […]. One is never in such intimate contact with plants as in a greenhouse.” –LHBGC, p. 199

After the death in 1897 of Henry Sage, a wealthy benefactor of Cornell University, Bailey purchased a lot across the street from the house, which included Sage’s carriage house and adjoining greenhouses. With help from an architecture professor named Clarence Martin, Bailey designed his family’s new home to be built alongside the greenhouse, so that he could walk from the kitchen right into the greenhouse, and from there into the carriage house. Bailey helped designed the home in the craftsman style, highlighting the woodwork of the builders and featuring many built-in bookshelves and seating. He left plenty of space around the property for gardens.

He converted the second floor of the carriage house into a publishing office for the magazine Country Life in America, which he began editing when it was launched in 1900, and an herbarium, which he would later name the “Hortorium,” the world’s first herbarium focused on horticultural collections. The greenhouses have long since been demolished, but the home still stands in Ithaca and is rented by Cornell University to a property management company as student housing. The historical integrity of the house that Bailey and Martin designed has been well preserved, whereas the carriage house is fully renovated, and a local gardener manages several flower plots behind the house in Bailey’s honor. Below, you can see a photograph of the front porch, surrounded by a seasonal bedding of palms. In his retirement, Bailey became deeply interested in the palm family, eventually becoming one of the world’s leading experts on palm taxonomy. The greenery he selected to surround his house no doubt changed greatly from year to year.

“Bedding with Palms,” in L. H. Bailey, Manual of Gardening (1912), pl. VII, and here.

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