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Suffragist, Pacifist, and Landscape Architect

Rose Standish Nichols, 1912

Rose Standish Nichols (1872-1960) is an eighth-generation descendant of George Abbott and Hannah Chandler (Arthur Howard Nichols7, John Perkins Nichols6, Susannah Towne Nichols5, Martha Abbott Towne4, Ephraim3, John2, George1).

Rose Nichols cannot be easily pigeon-holed. She was in many ways a woman ahead of her times actively advocating for women’s rights. She was, at the same time, a privileged member of a Beacon Hill family. She pursued a professional career as a landscape architect.

Rose was born at Boston 11 January 1872 the oldest of three daughters of Arthur Howard and Elizabeth Fisher (Homer) Nichols. Her father was a homeopathic physician. Her mother was the sister-in-law of the American Beaux Arts sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens. It was partly the influence of her Uncle Augustus that encouraged Rose to pursue garden design. Her education in garden design was eclectic taking a course in design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, taking at least one course at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris, studying drafting at the architectural firm Carrère and Hastings in New York, plus study in England related to formal English gardens.

Rose was successful in her garden design career having commissions in places as diverse as California, Arizona, Wisconsin, and New England. She authored several books on garden design, some of these combining her interest in travel, such as Italian Pleasure Gardens and Spanish and Portuguese Gardens.

Rose was also actively involved in movements for women’s rights and pacifism. She was actively involved in the U. S. Women’s Peace Party and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Undoubtedly, Rose was influenced in her social interests by her mother Elizabeth who was active in social causes such as the creation of the Orphan’s Asylum in Lexington in the 1890’s. Rose and her mother had global interests in social issues, for example working with the Queen of Greece in support of social service programs in that country and raising funds for a girls’ college in Constantinople.

Rose was raised in a home purchased by Arthur Nichols in 1885 at 55 Mount Vernon Street in Boston. Rose inherited this home in 1935 and lived there until her death in 1960. In her will, she established this home as the Nichols House Museum which houses an extensive collection of fine furniture, sculpture, tapestries, and portraits.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Duclos-Orsello, Elizabeth, Expanding our Understanding of the Nichols Women: An Overview of the Project “Rose Standish Nichols: Her Friends and Colleagues Revealed Through Correspondence”,

Nichols House Museum,

Tankard, Judith B. “Rose Standish Nichols, a Proper Bostonian”, Arnoldia, volume 58, no. 4, 1999

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