Douglas Chandor was born in Surrey, England, on August 20, 1897. Chandor attended Radley College, Berkshire from 1910-1914, and promptly left college to enlist in the 1st Life Guards of the British Army.
He later transferred to the Scottish Lovat Scouts, but was soon discharged due to his bout with typhoid and an injury that impaired his knee. During his time with fellow soldiers, Chandor began his first attempts at portraiture, and upon his discharge, was admitted to the Slade School in London.
His talent was sought world-wide, thus producing painted portraits of Edward, Duke of Windsor, the young Prince of Wales, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Queen Elizabeth, just to name a few of his some 200 recorded paintings.
In 1934, Chandor married Ina Kuteman Hill of Weatherford, Texas, and soon embarked on his greatest masterpiece with four acres of barren land as his canvas. The project began in 1936 with the aid of picks, shovels and dynamite - and a man’s fortitude to construct a "living artwork."
Chandor devoted sixteen years to his gardens before he suffered a major stroke from which he never recovered. He died January 13, 1953 at the age of 56. On March 4th of the same year, Ina Chandor opened the gardens to the public for a nominal fee of $1.00. She used the proceeds to help absorb the high costs associated with the gardens’ maintenance. The gardens were drawing several thousand visitors annually. Ina joined her late husband in 1978, and the gardens slowly died with them.
Today, the grounds show new life - a place to escape from the cares of the world. It is a gardener's paradise for people young and old, horticulturist or amateur, or just someone who appreciates the beauty of nature.
Douglas and Ina Chandor are buried at Old City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford.
Chandor Gardens is a unique world-class paradise featuring an enchanting array of creativity, color and beauty. The gardens were lovingly designed and created by renowned English portrait artist Douglas Chandor over 70 years ago yet remain a spectacular marvel.
To most, this chalky hill in North Central Texas would seem an unlikely place for a garden of such imagination and splendor. But when Douglas Chandor married Weatherford native Ina Kuteman in 1935, she convinced him to build their home and garden in the heart of her hometown.
Although his claim to fame was his talent as an artist, Douglas found his real passion as a gardener. He once told Ina that his talent for painting was merely a means that enabled him to fulfill his dreams of building a "living artwork". Douglas Chandor's destiny would be to turn these dreams into a reality.
The gardens, originally called White Shadows, were carved from 4 acres of rock-hard terrain that was once a cow pasture. The project began in 1936 with the aid of picks, shovels, dynamite and mule-drawn plows. Truckloads of topsoil and tons of boulders were brought in to transform the barren cactus-dotted property into a peaceful haven enclosed by hedges and walls. Chandor devised a series of garden rooms, each with individual character and stunning views, all connected by meandering walkways. His creation combines the styles and ambiance of Chinese and English gardens with such delights as fountains, grottos, and even a mountain waterfall.
The Chandors worked tirelessly together in the gardens until Douglas' death in 1953, at which time Ina renamed them Chandor Gardens as a tribute to her husband. The gardens remained open to the public until shortly before her death in the late 1970s. Because there were no direct heirs, the property remained unattended, overgrown and deteriorating for 20 years.
In 1994, local residents Charles and Melody Bradford purchased the estate and took on the enormous task of restoring the gardens and home. In what could only be described as a true labor of love, they painstakingly spent years clearing and cleaning away the debris of decades of neglect. Many large old trees, Douglas' original wisteria and boxwood plantings, and his magical hardscapes remained. Everything else was replanted by the Bradfords, and thanks to their efforts Chandor Gardens was once again transformed into a lush tranquil delight.
In time, the Bradford's decided to sell the property, and the City of Weatherford purchased Chandor Gardens in May 2002. After minor renovations necessary for compliance with the American Disabilities Act and City building codes, Chandor was re-opened to the public in the fall of 2002.
The gardens are available for public and private tours. The gardens along with the Chandor mansion are available for rental. It is an ideal and picturesque setting for weddings, photography, meetings, and special events.
For more information on Chandor Gardens or to book your next special event, please call 817-613-1700 or email.
About Chandor Mansion
Built in 1939, this Palladian style home was designed by the architect Joseph Pelich to be primarily the artist’s studio.
Douglas and Ina lived here six months out of each year and spent the remaining six months in New York City where Douglas also kept a studio.
Additions to the home were built in the 1940’s and once again after Douglas’ death in the 1950’s.