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March 7, 2013

Land Trust seeks photos, stories about Brookwood Point

Staff Report
Cooperstown Crier

---- — Thanks to the contribution of $15,000 in pro bono services by Templeton Landscape and Architecture Planning, the Otsego Land Trust is piecing together the  historical and ecological history of Brookwood Point.

Brookwood Point is a 22-acre former estate within the Glimmerglass Historic District on Otsego Lake. It is often referred to as the Secret Garden.

According to a media release, the report will focus on the historic aspects of Brookwood’s garden, which dates back to 1915.

Michele Palmer, owner of Templeton, became aware of the Brookwood Point site through her colleague Tom Breiten.  His longtime interest in the site and the garden lead him to use the garden for his master’s degree research at Cornell University in 2009.  According to a media release, Brookwood Point is not a typical project for Palmer, but one she has embraced because of a commitment to helping communities understand and protect significant local landscapes.

Palmer is involved in studying garden archaeology of ancient gardens.  The release said she has become intrigued by the history of the Brookwood site and in particular, Frederick de Peyster Townsend who, with his wife, Catherine Townsend Chapman, designed and built the garden around the time of World War I.  He was one of the first graduates of Harvard’s master program in landscape architecture, class of 1902.

With the help of OLT volunteers, Palmer has sifted through boxes of archival materials housed in the OLT office, viewed archives at New York State Historical Associatn and Cornell and contacted decendents to gain insight into the property.  She found a detailed site plan for the proposed development drawn by Townsend in 1915 that provides insight into his concept for the garden.

Members of the public willing share photographs or remembrances that may contribute further to Palmer’s documentation are asked to call the Otsego Land Trust at 547-2366 or to email

OLT relies heavily on volunteers to maintain the garden, hosting cleanup days in the spring and fall and inviting local gardening clubs to help in the summer. This report will help the community understand the history of the garden and structure the work with the many dedicated volunteers to manage this unique property, according to the release.

OLT has owned Brookwood Point since August 2011. Using a 2011 Citizens Advisory Committee report and the experience of managing the property for the past 18 months, a subcommittee has prepared a plan for the use of this 22 acre lake front property. 

The plan, together with its financial requirements, will be presented at a public meeting on March 9. The meeting will be held at 11 a.m. at Templeton Hall at 63 Pioneer Street in Cooperstown. The public is welcome to attend and submit comments.  For more information, contact the Otsego Land Trust at 547-2366 or email