The Redwood Library was erected on grounds donated by Henry Collins, nicknamed “Newport’s Lorenzo de Medici,” which he had previously used as a Bowling Green. Typical of the period, there was no noteworthy landscaping that accompanied the library’s stunning architecture. In fact, the landscape was so rustic that in the years following the Revolutionary War, the Librarian was specifically allowed to graze a “cow or horse in the Library yard, but no hogs.”
It was not until the library’s renewed fortunes in the nineteenth century that further efforts were made towards the landscaping. In the 1830’s walks were laid out and the institution received a number of botanical gifts and in 1835 the Fernleaf Beech, now a cherished local landmark. Redwood Library acquired the corner property at Bellevue and Old Beach Road in 1934. Architect John Russell Pope was engaged to create a park area adjoining the Library. Pope designed a long flagstone-paved allée leading to the Redwood Summer House, added to the library grounds in 1917. The Redwood Summer House is a pavilion that was built in 1766 by Peter Harrison for Abraham Redwood’s country seat in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. In 1932, the library received a copy of the Houdon bronze statue of George Washington, which now resides on our side portico.