Victorian Americans had a romantic emotional
attachment to nature. It was a sanctuary from the
changes industry and science were bringing to society.
Victorian art, literature and architecture all
incorporated “the freshness of the early world.”
George and Clara Patterson even added nature into
the carvings on the front of their house. Victorians
sought a connection with nature, but nature scaled
down to human proportions and domesticated.
But keeping wild deer caused problems. Farmhands
were pinned against the fence or bucked by the deer.
One worker was run up a tree by a buck and was so
frightened that he stayed there all night. Finally,
in 1908, the deer were released back into the wild.
Clara loved the outdoors and around 1896 established
her own Deer Park at the farm. It had a tall fence
surrounding 20 acres and a herd of 16-20 deer. The
family and neighbors would often picnic here enjoying
the beauty of deer in a “natural” state.
“Its dense undergrowth and generally wild appearance
make it an ideal home for the handsome animals.
They are captives with none of the elements of captivity.”
Washington Press, September 1898.
All photos courtesy of the Patterson House Collection
The deer were fed every day between
4:00pm and 6:00pm.
“The deer are Mrs. Patterson’s special pets and she
passes many pleasant hours watching them.”
Washington Press, September 1898