The Workers - Alexander Gilson, Head Gardener

The Workers

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Alexander Gilson, Head Gardener

The intriguing Alexander Gilson (1823-1889) served as head gardener at Montgomery Place for Louise Livingston, Cora and Thomas Barton, and the Hunts from the 1840s into the 1880s.

It is likely that he is the man holding the paper in the center of this photographic detail.

Gilson and the other workers labored long and hard to create model estates like Montgomery Place. The end result might be a source of delight and repose for the elite owners, but less so for those whose labor made these seasonal fantasies possible. Even though Cora Barton enjoyed gardening as a hobby, for the grounds staff it was a livelihood rather than recreation.

View of the conservatory at Montgomery Place showing workers (detail), by A. Watson. Albumen stereoscope print, August, 1861. Bard College, Montgomery Place Collection.

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