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Archive for September, 2011

The process of reaching the Shreveport area historic preservation planner and consultant is unfolding slowly.  After hearing no reply from my voice mail late last week, I checked back late this morning as well.  If my voice mail reached the correct telephone number, this individual might be able to share some clues on Lambert’s contribution to the Garden design; if this not the correct number, I’ll look for a different route.  I asked that he let me know either way… so that I can progress one way or another.

As mentioned earlier, I have discovered several Hodges Gardens plans which do not credit a designer.  I wonder if the landscape architect from Lambert’s would have known who is responsible for these.  I have documentation of his involvement with Mr. Hodges, but have yet to see his name on any other drawings.  These plans were found rolled in a tube titled ‘Garden Layout’.  Again, established in Shreveport in 1919, Lambert Landscape Company specialized–as they do today–in garden design.  These individually unlabeled Garden Layout drawings are detail plans of a larger, comprehensive garden master plan.   Below are some examples of what I’ve discovered.

Garden Layout drawings container. Several uncredited drawings found in here are detail drawings of a larger, comprehensive garden plan. Hodges Foundation archives.

Example of a Garden Layout detail plan. Hodges Foundation archives.

Comprehensive Garden Plan, undated and uncredited. I have discovered a handful of detail drawings as exhibited in the previous image, which zoom in on specific areas on this map. For reference, the main loop road is highlighted in grey, and passes by the mainland boat dock on the far right side of the image. The Gift Shop and Lookout Tower are highlighted in salmon and appear as the larger and smaller circular areas, respectively. Hodges Foundation archives.

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I think my email to Lambert’s general inquiry address last week may have been routed to their spam inbox, but thankfully, Lara Moffat, Director of Marketing and Recruitment at Dallas’ Lambert Landscape Company, independently found this blog.  Her comment on the below post prompted my contacting her directly, and I received a helpful reply.

Lara mentioned Lambert’s archival records do not go back to 1952, so I asked if she knew any older employees or community members that may have been associated with Lambert’s around that time.  She mentioned contacting a Shreveport historic preservation and planning consultant who is a Centenary College graduate and writer on Shreveport area subjects.  The number I initially tried sounded disconnected, so I have been searching online phone books.  I tried a promising new number today and left a message.  I hope to hear back next week sometime.

Anyway, similar to my intuition, Lara is confident that Hodges Gardens is very likely a past project of the company.  Lara noted Lambert’s early roots through an office and garden center in Shreveport, near the current day Pierremont Mall.

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"...Your Landscape Architect Mr. Lambert" is the text of interest here. See more below. This excerpt comes from a letter addressed to Garden founder A.J. Hodges upon his recent visit with the F. Graham Williams Company. Credit: Hodges Foundation archive.

This letter from F. Graham Williams Company to A.J. Hodges is the source from which the above text detail was excerpted. After visiting a Crab Orchard Stone Company quarry with the above mentioned building supply dealer, Hodges is thanked in this letter. The first paragraph mentions a landscape architect from the Lambert Landscape Company. Though a number of designed features at Hodges Gardens are credited to Hare & Hare Landscape Architects, this is the first I have seen of Lambert's association. Could a Lambert landscape architect be responsible for some un-credited drawings of which I have discovered?

Earlier this summer I spent several hours discovering, uncovering, skimming, and scanning/photographing various archival materials–including original correspondence letters, drawings, sketches, advertisements, photographs, and other publications.  These resources revealed many clues about the history of the Hodges Gardens landscape, including its initial development and evolution over time.  Though state park officials informed me of the architects early on, mid-summer research unveiled that Hare & Hare of Kansas City were the landscape architects that contributed to Hodges Gardens design.

I am aware of a few more than twenty (20) Hare & Hare  drawings, each of which were likely prepared or approved by Mr. Donald Bush (ASLA Fellow; park planning and estate planning specialist at the firm), the landscape architect hired by Hodges and a principal at the firm. However, there are almost as many drawings proposing items like vegetation beds, walkways, and water courses–all of which fail to credit the designer.  This has been a mystery with little to no leads until YESTERDAY…  (I will take another drink of coffee as I hold myself back from linking that all-caps word to the Beatles song video of that title).

As mentioned above, I have uncovered several archival materials, but time has not permitted a thorough review of all items.  In reviewing a letter yesterday, I came across some words of excitement: “your landscape architect Mr. Lambert.”  Whoa.  Excerpted from the images above, this is a letter in which a Crab Orchard sandstone dealer writes Garden founder A.J. Hodges and also thanks his architect and landscape architect.

Again, this is the first I have heard of a Lambert Landscape Company’s association with Hodges Gardens.  A quick internet search brought me to Lambert’s website, which represents this firm which is operating in Dallas, Texas.  Focused on garden design, the group was established in 1919.  A brief history paragraph on the firm’s website notes that Joe and Henry Lambert brought the company from Shreveport to Dallas in 1935, which even more closely roots the firm in this northwest Louisiana area.  Perhaps Lambert’s is responsible for the un-credited drawings or even design elements of which I have yet to locate drawn proposals?  If so, what was the extent, if any, of Lambert’s relationship with Hare & Hare?  These are new, exciting questions.  I sent Lambert’s an email yesterday afternoon.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Main Entrance, Hodges Gardens, 1960. This image is scanned from an original copy of the Hodges Gardens Magazet, Volume 1, Number 4. Published quarterly, the Magazet was a brief magazine showcasing literature and announcements related to the Garden, as well as articles on contextual themes and attractions. Note the pine cones topping the two entry gate posts and the entry road topping the low hill in the distance. The top of this hill is the location of the present day entrance station and area referred to as the Texas Overlook. Image credit: John Byrd.

Entrance elevation proposal, Walker & Walker Architects, Shreveport, LA. 1952. Image credit: Hodges Foundation archives.

Entrance gate proposal, plan view, Walker & Walker Architects, Shreveport, Louisiana. 1952. Image credit: Hodges Foundation archives.

Pine cone post detail. Note the pine cones topping the entry posts in the historic photo above. Hodges Foundation archive.

Hello, and thank you for visiting.  I am excited to be back at the National Center for Preservation Technology & Training and back on WordPress.  If you are new to this blog, I encourage you to check out earlier posts or the ‘About’ page if you want to learn more about the background of this project.  Essentially, Exploring Hodges Gardens is a blog in which I highlight challenges and discoveries of an historic landscape documentation at this site.  If you have been here before, thank you again for your continued interest in this work and your support of Hodges Gardens State Park.

The images above are proposals and a resulting view of the original entrance to Hodges Gardens.  The drawings are dated April 1952, and are original copies from the architects Walker & Walker of Shreveport, Louisiana.  The 1950s were the primary years of Garden construction.  When comparing the 1960 photograph with the earlier proposal, notice the differing character of the stone entry sign.

Though the location of the entrance is nearly the same today, the aesthetics of the area have changed significantly.  When U.S. Hwy 171 was expanded into a 4-lane divided highway, the entry was pushed further from the original road corridor.  The stone entry sign, gateway, and entrance office are no longer extant.  While the loss of these structures is unfortunate, today’s entry experience is impressive in its own right.  Pine trees have matured, and as soon as the visitor leaves the vastness of the excessively wide U.S. Highway corridor, she enters into the sanctuary of a pine tree canopy reaching well above the winding entry road, which is true to its original course.  Today’s experience between the entry area pine trees and the present day entrance station at Texas Overlook is one of the most majestic at Hodges Gardens.

Continuing this discovery of recent landscape evolution and documenting quantitative and qualitative characteristics of changed and unchanged features is part of what I look forward to continuing this autumn.  While elements and aesthetics have been altered at the Garden entrance, much of the remainder of Hodges Gardens maintains its historic integrity.  As mentioned near the beginning of the summer, documentation highlights that are shared here will form a foundation and provide case study excerpts for a how-to guide on documenting historic landscapes.  A goal is the production of an easily accessible, friendly document that may assist readers anywhere who are interested in recognizing significant historic landscapes–especially those in their own neighborhoods.

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