Design snapshot: Garden amphitheater

It’s not every day that you stumble upon a National Historic Landmark. A couple of weekends ago, I did. I had just set out from a Camden B&B for my first stroll through the Maine village, when I came upon the town library. I headed to explore its grounds and shortly thereafter found myself descending into what I now know to be the Camden Amphitheatre, a National Historic Landmark.

Designed by Fletcher Steele in the late 1920’s/ early 1930’s, its gentle steps of fieldstone carve curved terraces leading to a circular, grass lawn or stage. The occasional boulder dots the geometry, and wild strawberries peak out from the crevices between stone treads. A splash of stark white birch trees stand out against the lush green backdrop and filter dappled light. Ascending stone stairs radiate off of what I imagine are compass points, and entice visitors to climb them. Maine’s rugged native materials and plant life soften the underlying formality of the design. It’s an exquisite marriage of planned and natural order. So glad I stumbled upon it.

by Katie Hutchison for the House Enthusiast