Page 13 - 2017 Preservation Society Summer Gazette
P. 13

Oglala Sioux, turned him into a celebrity. Parkman, like Bancroft, was a Harvard man, Boston Brahmin, active member of The Massachusetts Historical Society and fanatical rosarian. Parkman’s 1866 publication of The Book of Roses further established him as the American authority on roses, while Bancroft tended the country’s most famous rose gar- den by the Cliff Walk. Bancroft’s sale of
the front parcel of Rosecliff to the Parkman family, seeking refuge from the sensationalism of the murder trial, may have been motivated by his respect for Francis Parkman, Jr.
In Bancroft’s own
words: "Perhaps I feel
unusually kind toward
Mr. Parkman because
we have some tastes in
common which do not
spring out of our interest
in historical study. You know
I am very fond of roses and rath-
er proud of a collection which I have in
my garden here in Washington and also at my home in Newport. But Parkman knows more about roses than I do, and has beaten
me in the production of new and choice varieties. His roses are in a way quite as fine as his literary work."
- The Roanoke Times, December 24, 1893 - published as a tribute to Parkman who died the month before.
So, however it came about, Rosecliff is linked to the two foremost rose author-
ities of the 19th century. After Bancroft's death in 1891, Rosecliff was pur-
chased from his estate by Hermann Oelrichs and his wife Tessie. Mrs. Oelrichs could not abide the humble Parkman cot-
tage blocking her frontage on Bellevue Avenue and
began a campaign to clear her front lawn. By this time,
George Parkman, Jr. was
the sole heir to the Parkman estate and he refused multiple
buy-out offers. The tension between the neighbors became
fodder for society pages from Boston to New York and beyond:
"Another interesting story from Newport is to the effect that Mrs. Hermann Oelrichs,
George Bancroft's 'Rose Clyffe’
failing to secure the estate owned by Mr. George F. Parkman of Boston, which lies between the plot on which she is erecting her new villa on the Cliffs and Bellevue Avenue, has erected a ‘spite fence’ between her own and the Parkman property, some twenty feet high, and which shuts out a view of the sea from Mr. Parkman...It is not to be wondered at either that Mr. Parkman does not choose to sell his place simply to gratify Mrs. Oelrichs' desire for a frontage on Bellevue Avenue. He has occupied the old white and yellow cottage for many years, and being a conservative old Bostonian, not used to the restless ways of newer New Yorkers, is not likely to allow himself to be disturbed from his accustomed haunts or habits."
- The New York Times, April 21, 1892 Tessie Oelrichs would have to wait a very
long time before she got her wish. George Parkman, Jr. died in 1908 and bequeathed
his entire fortune, almost $6 million and his Newport home, to the city of Boston. After a failed public auction of the cottage and much negotiation, the Oelrichs finally purchased the Parkman property from the city of Boston for $3,000 in 1912. The cottage was torn down immediately.
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