Plainfield Garden Club

Golestan in the Smithsonian Archives


73 Leland Avenue, Plainfield, NJ

Named after a poem by Saadi entitled "Gulistan," the name means "garden of flowers." The property was purchased in 1907 by Phiroz D. Saklatvala when he served as the Persian consul-general. He remodeled the existing farmhouse and created an Italian garden in front of the house, but his main effort was the creation of a Japanese garden. Saklatvala commissioned Takeo Shiota to design a garden out of flat farmland and brook using Japanese craftsmen. The Green Brook was diverted by a low dam and led into several waterways, flowing around two small islands connected by seven bridges, each copying a different arch. Little hills represented mountains with hundreds of planted flowering shrubs and flowers. The garden included a memorial statue for Saklatvala's mother of a Japanese girl carved in 1691. The workers dug out a a natural cascading swimming pool in 1924 and built a two story pagoda to serve as a bathhouse. The gardens were part of a fledgling movie industry in the early 1900s. Portions of "Madame Butterfly," starring Mary Pickford, as well as "Greater Love Hath No Man", "Broken Fetters," and "A Lesson From the Far East" were photographed in the gardens. The only architectural elements that remain today are a Shinto gate at the entrance to the garden, and the ruins of a teahouse across the brook and no longer part of the property.
Persons associated with the property include: Phiroz D. Saklatvala (former owner, ca. 1907-1930); Stillman family (former owners, ca. 1930-1970); Stillman Gardens, Inc. (present owners); and Takeo Shiota (landscape architect, ca. 1910-1920).



[Golestan] [slide]: Mary Pickford, as Madam Butterfly, with memorial statue of Japanese girl.


Kasten, Darlene, photographer.

[Golestan] [slide]: red Japanese entrance gate flanked by two shrubs.


Co-Creator: Kasten, Darlene, photographer.
[Golestan] [slide]: rock steps at Japanese stone ornaments.

For more information and photographs

Link to the online file for:

Stillman, Mrs. Albert Leeds (Virginia Brown) '41

Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Elizabeth B. Atwood) '15

Stillman, Mrs. William Maxson (Ethel Lucile Titsworth) '42

Myers, Mrs. Jared Kirtland (Mary Ann Stillman) '15

Quarles, Mrs. Emmet Augustus (Anita Mary Stillman) '22

Link to the Smithsonian file on Golestan