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Thanks for exploring Hodges Gardens with me.  I’m pleased that this project created some new Hodges Gardens fans and even re-sparked feelings for the Garden that were experienced decades ago.  Thank you for your comments and suggestions.  Your presence and contributions both assisted the research process and added life to this blog.

Understanding Your Historic Landscape, a guide for researching historic landscapes.

Today is the last day of my internship here at NCPTT.  Recently, I’ve been working on a historic landscape research guide, which uses examples from the research that this blog represents.  Called Understanding Your Historic Landscape, the document presents suggestions for researching and documenting historic landscapes–suggestions which will hopefully be helpful to readers from backgrounds other than historic landscape studies.  When the guide is ready for online viewing, a link will be provided here on the blog.   Similarly, the guide will link readers back to this blog.

Although I will no longer regularly update Exploring Hodges Gardens, it will remain online.  The blog will be available as a resource for future research, and will remain a location where readers can revisit Hodges Gardens and share comments.  Again, thanks for your interest in Exploring Hodges Gardens.  This has been a rewarding experience, and I look forward to sharing the completed guide.  The following is an excerpt from the introduction page of the guide.

“Historic landscapes are all around us.   From the National Mall in Washington D.C., to the rural hamlets, farms, resorts, parks, battlefields, and cemeteries around our own neighborhoods and regions, our heritage is alive and reflected in the landscape…

Many products of historic landscape research (including the CLI, CLR, and HALS) are best accomplished by practitioners in the above mentioned fields. However, much can be learned about an historic landscape by people of any background—given a genuine interest in the landscape and a basic aptitude for research…

Recognizing primary requirements of historic landscape research, this document aims to recommend techniques for better understanding an historic landscape—and most importantly, to present the information in a way that is useful to interested persons of any background or training…”

A watercourse draws the eye through the landscape in this springtime photo from 1966. Hodges Foundation Archive.

The Dallas Times Herald announced the Hodges Gardens spring season with this paper magazine cover on April 3, 1966.  This view appears to be taken on the second/middle level of the main gardens–one of the most visited areas in the Garden today.

The Cultural Landscape Foundation hosts an online resource called What’s Out There.  Supported in part by the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training, What’s Out There is a database recognizing significant cultural landscapes across the U.S.  A couple days ago they accepted an entry I submitted for Hodges Gardens.  Hodges Gardens will join more than one thousand other significant cultural landscapes in the online database, which will provide an additional route for people to discover and appreciate Hodges Gardens.  See Hodges Gardens in the archive here http://tclf.org/landscapes/hodges-garden-state-park.

Centenary College Choir members pause at the historic Hodges Gardens entrance, circa 1967-69. Hodges Foundation Archive.

“Centenary College Choir; this VW courtesy of Moffitt Volkswagen, Inc.”  This undated photograph from the archive provides an exercise in dating older photographs–a useful tool for recognizing and documenting landscape change.  Where maps are unavailable or lack a specific focus or detail, clues about the historic landscape can often be found in older photos–even those that were intended for entirely different purposes, such as a highlight of this student choir trip as photographed above.  A visit to the landscape can then assist with comparing the historic with existing conditions.

In the above example, it is difficult to revisit the exact location in the landscape, because this entire entrance area has changed since its original design in the mid-1950’s.  When U.S. Highway 171 (the road from which these students just exited) was expanded to a divided highway, nearly all the additional land acquired by the highway department came from the Hodges Gardens (east) side of the road.  The entrance sign and fence were removed, and autos now travel on top of the land in the foreground above.

The shiny Type 2 (T2) Volkswagon pictured above dates the photo to no earlier than 1967.  Though similar to Volkswagon’s Type 2 (T1)–originally marketed in the U.S. from 1950-1967–the Type 2 (T2) was sold in the U.S. from 1967-1979.  On the other end of my timeframe estimate, I’m considering vegetation, the appearance of the students, and the fact that the vehicle is a courtesy car from a Volkswagon dealership.  Given only the latter clue, I’d say the photo is not much more recent than 1979, because the dealership was more likely to provide a new/recent model for courtesy vehicles–particularly for advertisement purposes.  Considering the height of the planted pines and the style of the students, I would estimate this photo was snapped between 1967 and ’70.  If you see any other helpful clues in the photograph, I’d love to hear from you in this post’s comment space.  Volkswagon fans: do you see anything else in the character of the van that helps pinpoint the manufacture year more precisely than ’67-’79?

Established in 1941, Shreveport’s Centenary College Choir has performed around the world, and plays an important role in the culture and community of the Shreveport / Ark-La-Tex region.  Through both performances and retreats, the Choir has been closely tied to Hodges Gardens for five (5) decades.

Last week I traveled to Hodges Gardens to ground truth, or field-check, a map of the landscape.  The map is an undated and minimally labeled drawing I discovered a few months ago in the Hodges Foundation Archive.  Given a few clues on the early development of the Garden, it’s safe to conclude the drawing is not a site masterplan from the design phase.

The map covers all of the Main Gardens, Visitor Center/Parking areas, as well as Willow Point and over to the Butterfly Garden near the Lakeside Amphitheatre.  As part of the documentation process, a priority has been to compare this map to current conditions on the ground to assist in the process of analyzing the landscape’s recent change over time.

The coral colored rectangle in the above comprehensive map notes the area of interest expanded in the image below. Source: Hodges Foundation Archive.

Current and historic images, as well as historic drawings may help with dating the map.  For example:  when an item (or shape/form) whose known date of installation is identified on the map, it can generally be figured that the map was probably produced after the date of the given element’s establishment.  Similarly, if an item of known installation date is vacant from the map,  it is likely that the map was produced before that element was established in the landscape.  Given enough of these types of clues, a date can be estimated for the map/plan.

Exceptions and flaws to the method exist: suppose an existing item were purposefully omitted from a map.  Still, the simple process can be pretty accurate and very helpful in better understanding and using an unlabeled map.  [Along other lines, historic photographs can also be roughly dated using similar clues].  This kind of information is essential to historic landscape planning.

The arrow above marks the intersection where two (2) elements were recognized as being established in different time periods. Walkway 1, which is also noted in Figure B below, was recognized as a later addition to the landscape. In this case, Walkway 1 was absent from the map; I penciled it in to depict existing conditions, as shown above.

Much of the Hodges Gardens map held true to the shape of the landscape today.  However, I was able to update a few things–including the addition of a few current-day walkways.  The example in the image below was fairly easy to identify as a later addition to the landscape.  Notice both the change in material (similar but different) and also the angles connecting the paths in the intersection–both of which suggest the two paths were created at separate times.

Of course, a change in material doesn’t always suggest a different time period:  such changes can be design decisions on paper before initial installation even begins (say, a clear transition from concrete to stone).  In the case below though, it is pretty evident that the later addition is attempting to imitate the other material; an exercise that would usually and controversially be employed only with a later addition.

The arrow in this present-day photograph marks the intersection shown in plan view in the above map.

This photograph focuses on the intersection marked by arrows in the above images. Item 1 marks the later addition that I penciled in to the above map. Walkway 2 is the primary pedestrian circulation route at this intersection.

Another view of the intersection as discussed above. Note the lines/angle connecting the two walkways. This unique form in the landscape suggested that one element was a later addition.

A 1979 edition of LD+A (Lighting, Design + Application)—a magazine of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IES)—lists what appears to be an obituary for Mr. Eugene H. Fleming, III.  This suggests that Fleming was respected by the world of architectural lighting design, and also that he may have been a member of IES.  Finding the above entry in Google Books (the excerpt is barely a snippet, but visible) reminded me of a certificate I found and photographed back in June—one of an award by the IES.

As the image below displays, Walker & Walker received 1st place for their submission to the IES’ Applied Lighting Competition.  (They were recognized for their work on the bandshell of the amphitheatre on the lakeshore at Hodges Gardens).  When I learned one of the LSUS archive collections suggested Fleming was somehow involved with the design of Hodges Gardens’ Lookout Tower, I figured it was feasible to reason that he may have been associated with the Walker & Walker architecture firm, whose name is listed on the Lookout Tower design drawings.  Still, reviewing the below award from the IES makes the Fleming / Walker connection even more plausible.  Fleming likely partnered with Walker & Walker on at least a couple of Hodges Gardens projects.

Walker & Walker Architects awarded 1st Place in the IES Ark-La-Tex Chapter's Applied Lighting Competition, 1961. A couple of clues suggest Architect Eugene H. Fleming, III may have partnered with Walker & Walker on a couple of Hodges Gardens projects. Hodges Foundation Archive.

In addition to his potential connection with Walker & Walker, Fleming operated a firm under his own name, at a Shreveport office that was established in 1955.  According to the 1962 AIA Historical Directory, he was a graduate of the Georgia Institute of Technology (1947) and the Harvard School of Design (1954).  Fleming is responsible for a number of design projects in the Ark-La-Tex Region.  Born August 18, 1922 in Natchez, MS, he passed away December 15, 1978.  AIA member from 1956 til his death, Fleming served as the society’s president in 1959.

I recently mentioned my interest in a couple of collections at the LSU-Shreveport Archives & Special Collections in northwest Louisiana.  The goal was to learn more about the Lambert Landscape Company, which may have played a role in the early development and design of Hodges Gardens.

I connected with head archivist Dr. Laura McLemore, and she was kind enough to preview the collections.  The materials within don’t appear to hold any clues to further my knowledge of Lambert’s role in Hodges Gardens landscape history, but a document I found yesterday helps bring things into perspective.  The image below is a photo of the recently found document—a schedule of introductions from the 1959 grand opening at Hodges Gardens.

The early historians and archivists at Hodges Gardens did an impressive service to the future understanding of this special place. Today, more than 52 years after the printing of this opening ceremony document, this historic landscape research is benefiting from its being saved. This really speaks to the fact that documents and articles of any type and perspective can be helpful resources in historic landscape research (Hodges Foundation Archive).

This document tells me quite a bit.  It’s a list of folks who were recognized for their contribution to the creation of Hodges Gardens.  Donald Bush of Hare & Hare, Marshall & John of Walker & Walker, and construction manager C.B. Byrd are listed, among others.  The Bush/Hare name, however, is the only landscape architect noted.  Obviously, Lambert may still have played an important role, and for some reason or another the group just wasn’t recognized at this event.  While I know Lambert was associated with A.J. as his landscape architect, thus far I’ve only seen this connection in one document: a letter in which a wholesale supplies company representative thanks A.J. Hodges and “[his] landscape architect Mr. Lambert” for their visit to a Tennessee quarry.

In the case of Hodges Gardens, was Lambert primarily serving once or twice as a consultant on construction materials research?  It may be a while before I know the answer to this question, but in the meantime, I think it’s time to press forward.  There’s more to discover and document—for one, a conclusion I’m forming regarding the Garden’s connection with Eugene H. Fleming, III.  For now, Lambert traveled with Hodges to a crab orchard stone quarry in Tennesee (stone of which was not ordered)—beyond that understanding, future research may hold more clarification.