Few people have the longevity of Peter Blanchard to witness the transformation of their childhood home into a 28-acre public garden.
Blanchard was a writer, environmentalist, artist, educator, and philanthropist who wished to share his love of history and nature with others. On August 7, he passed away.
In the 1950s, Peter P. Blanchard III was raised on the Short Hills estate known as Greenwood Grounds. In 2013, he allowed the public access to the historic structures and gardens.
Blanchard was born in Manhattan in 1951, the son of Peter Parrott Blanchard Jr. and Adelaide Childs Frick. The family quickly relocated to the Short Hills house they had purchased in 1949 in order to enjoy a vacation from city life.
After a brief illness, Peter’s mother passed away in 1956 when he was 5 years old.
In addition to the family’s numerous canines, Peter, an only child, relied on history and nature to keep him company, according to a memorial from Greenwood Gardens.
An obituary said that one of his favorite activities was exploring the South Mountain Reservation with the family’s dogs, who at one point numbered 20. He was constantly watching out for Lenape Indians or Revolutionary War soldiers.
After that, Blanchard worked as a science teacher, author, philanthropist, and environmentalist.
On his obituary, a former pupil said, “Mr. Blanchard was my first science teacher at Chapin.” In 1981, when I was a new student, he welcomed me and was amusing and encouraging.
According to an obituary in Maine media, he was a trustee of the Frick Collection, an art collection, and had served as the director of the Maine Coast Heritage Trust. At the time of his passing, he was the chairman of Greenwood Gardens.
He had regularly maintained many islets in Maine using a wooden lobster boat with a crew. We Were an Island: the Maine Life of Art and Nan Kellam, a book he wrote on island life (University Press of New England, 2010).
Blanchard graduated from Princeton University and went on to earn master’s degrees at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Yale School of Forestry.
After his father passed away in 2003, he and his wife Sofia co-founded Greenwood Gardens to carry out his father’s desire for the land to be accessible to the general public. Fundraising and site preparation took years for the pair.
At the time of his passing, he shared a home in Manhattan with his wife Sofia and son Theo.
According to an obituary, “Peter spent his life with honesty, kindness, and purpose.” “His irreverence and sense of humor were always present. He was a dedicated proponent of land conservation from the Maine coast to New Jersey and the Caribbean due to his strong love of nature and all its animals. He was an accomplished writer, voracious reader, poetry enthusiast, and landscape painter.”
There will be a memorial service announced soon through public channels.