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Archive for the ‘Letters, Newspaper, & Other Documents’ Category

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Ogilvie Hardware Company, Inc. Original fencing purchase/order verification letter from Ogilvie to A.J. Hodges. Note the request for 396 rolls of 200' length mesh, non-climbable fencing. The 79,200 feet of fencing requested equals an even 15 miles. Nona remembers the shock and excitement that rose in the employees' eyes upon her granddad's initial request at the hardware store. Letter dated August 14, 1950. Credit: Hodges Foundation.

Nona Dailey–granddaughter of Hodges Gardens founders A.J. & Nona Trigg Hodges and daughter of John Joseph Dailey, Jr, & Laura Trigg Hodges–met us at the NCPTT office last Thursday.  Hodges Gardens manager Kim Kelly has been really helpful in connecting Debbie and me to a host of helpful folks and was responsible for initiating these meeting arrangements.  Debbie and I shared a brief slideshow that covered some research updates from our discoveries this summer.  We also highlighted some of our current questions..

(1) to what extent, if any, did Hare & Hare and Walker & Walker collaborate on Hodges Gardens projects?  (materials and craftsmanship is largely similar throughout both landscape and architectural elements);

(2) Extent of Hare & Hare influence on the landscape (we have found some unmarked construction drawings that look similar to, but slightly altered from, some original corresponding Hare & Hare credited masterplan phase drawings;

(3) Quarry connection/inspiration in Gardens design? (Where historic quarry paths incorporated into the 1950s Garden design)? – Research thus far hints at this, but I am curious on the extent of this.

An investment banker and triathlon competitor based in Shreveport, Nona has been very supportive and helpful through our correspondence with her thus far, so it was  a pleasure to finally meet.  She shared a few brief personal memories of Hodges Gardens:

(1) Nona remembers picnicking with her mother near Hodges Gardens construction areas on visits to her grandparents, A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges.

(2) The four similar bedroom suites on the top floor of the Hodges residence were designed for the families of each of A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges’ four (4) children.

(3) Nona mentioned visiting a Shreveport hardware store to inquire about fencing for the Hodges Gardens property.  She remembers employees’ shock and pleasant surprise at her granddad’s request for 15+ miles of fencing.  An original correspondence letter between Ogilvie Hardware Company and A.J. Hodges begins this blog post.  Note the request for 396 rolls of 200′ length mesh, non-climbable fencing.  The 79,200 feet of fencing requested equals an even 15 miles.  Nona remembers the shock turn to excitement in employees’ eyes upon her granddad’s initial request for 15 miles of fencing.

Ogilvie’s closed in 1999, but an early 2011 news report notes that a Dallas realty company plans to renovate and convert the building into a 90 unit apartment building.  This 1926 downtown structure is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the apartments should give the building new life by January 2012 after remaining vacant since Ogilvie’s departure.  More information on Ogilvie’s Hardware Building is available through Shreveport’s Downtown Development Authority.  Beautiful photos of Ogilvie’s can be found online, including this one from a Flickr account by Brandon Brasseaux.

Elevation view of proposed fence design. Hatched area at bottom represents the earth and ground plane, while 6 feet of mesh and 2 feet of barbed wire fencing rise above. Original drawing circa 1950. Credit: Hodges Foundation.

(4) Establishing such an industrious fence in southern Sabine Parish was no doubt turning some heads in 1950.  As folks questioned what was happening behind the 15 miles of fence, Nona remembers rising rumors including suspicion of a nuclear weapons storage facility.  In other circles, rumors rose that perhaps Hodges was assisting in a gold hoarding operation with comparisons to the U.S. Bullion Depository at Fort Knox.  Although Hodges was simply creating a private residence and garden to share with friends and family, he felt the need to disprove these rumors.  According to Nona, this is part of the reason A.J. Hodges decided to open the Gardens to the public.  By opening the gates, he could retain his private getaway on House Island while negating gold and missile rumors and sharing his love of landscape with others.

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After our meeting with Ben D. Peterson, we drove north for a 3:30 appointment with Linda Curtis-Sparks, Director of the Sabine Parish Tourist Commission.  Involved in Sabine Parish area tourism for much of her life, we hoped to talk with Linda about the role of Hodges Gardens in the tourism of this area.  An account of this history may bring a better understanding of the rise and fall of different landscape elements and landscape emphases/goals throughout the life of the Garden.

Historical Hodges Gardens Motor Inn & Restaurant. Extant today as Emerald Hills Golf Resort, this facility's connection and proximity to Hodges Gardens created a complex (and would be considered a comprehensive cultural landscape today) that remains a excellent example of the auto-focused tourism that rose and created a culture of tourist courts, cottages, and motels during the middle part of the 20th Century. Historic postcard image courtesy Louisiana-Destinations.com.

From the Gardens’ opening to the public in 1956, Linda believes the Garden saw some its most popular, most visited years from the early 1970s to the early 1980s.  In 1963 Hodges Gardens Motor Inn & Restaurant opened across from the Garden entrance.   This facility brought Hodges Gardens guests easy access to lodging and other amenities.

Toledo Bend Reservoir, a recreation and hydroelectric power source, was completed in 1969.  Created from the damming of the Sabine River on the Louisiana/Texas border, the reservoir is located within close proximity to Hodges Gardens.  At 185,000 acres of surface area, Toledo Bend is the 5th largest reservoir or artificial lake.

While the Gardens and Toledo Bend were the most highly visited regional attractions for several years, Toledo Bend began to surpass Hodges Gardens in visitation.  Linda recalled a disappointing incident when part of the Hodges Gardens Motor Inn–including the original restaurant burned.  As resources and funding covered less ground on the expansive Hodges Gardens, the site saw some rough years and a decline in its visitation–despite the dedicated passion of many–up to the day of its adoption by the Louisiana Office of State Parks.

After hearing a bit on the early years and later years of Hodges Gardens, we asked Linda how she sees the Gardens playing a roll in the future of tourism in this area.  In general, she sees Hodges Gardens’ visitation and popularity continuing to grow.   While Toledo Bend provides great fishing and boating opportunities, Linda believes the Gardens will continue to offer a unique state park experience for garden and outdoor fans, as well as a positive, relaxing atmosphere for the entire family.

Hodges Gardens Motor Inn & Restaurant, looking southeast toward Hodges Gardens entrance. Notice Gardens entry sign and structure across U.S. Hwy 171. The caption in the lower right reads: Relax and have fun in Louisiana’s luxury resort. Breath-taking year ‘round scenic beauty in 4700 acre "Garden in the Forest." Fabulous hospitality at dissimilar Hodges Gardens Motor Inn. Wonderful cuisine. Top-flight service. Convention facilities. Interesting 9-hole golf course. Tennis courts. Swimming pools. Located leisurely distance from 182,000 acre Toledo Bend Lake, vast new recreation area. Heartland of historical Louisiana and Texas landmarks. Image credit: Hodges Gardens archive.

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Hear, hear:  Hare and Hare!

Debbie and I spent Wednesday afternoon in the park archives.  After an exciting morning, we were enthusiastic to find some more clues.  Again, if we could find a name or firm associated with the landscape design on the site, we could define our historic drawings search, and see if any original landscape masterplans existed.  After about an hour and a half of scanning through scrapbooks, Debbie found one of our most exciting Hodges Gardens discoveries: a landscape architecture firm credited with the garden’s design.  Even more significant, the name was Donald Bush, landscape architect (FASLA) with Hare & Hare in Kansas City!

Practicing with a group under the name Ochsner Hare & Hare today, the original firm was a father and son team, established in 1910.  Notable Hare & Hare projects include the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.  Realizing the firm’s connection with Hodges Gardens brings much excitement to the project.

We found this Hare & Hare listing in the middle of a scrapbook, within a clipping from the Shreveport Labor Leader, Winter 1964.  Donald Bush, along with Ralph Reinhart (check that link!), were important partners in the firm during the early and mid 20th century.

Debbie remembered that a colleague of ours from the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation is researching Hare & Hare.  Small world?  Mhmm.

Carol Grove, Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of Missouri—Columbia, was excited to hear of our research.  She checked a comprehensive database of Hare & Hare projects, which indicated that the landscape firm was indeed involved, and that up to 20 or more project files might be available at a Kansas City research center.

After Carol initiated contact with David Boutros at the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center (Kansas City), we continued conversation.  A phone call revealed that some 25 large drawings and another job file folder was available at the archive—and that a party had requested scans of the drawings back in 2007.  Who was this party, and where are these drawings?!

Newspaper clippings. Skimming for information at the Park's archive.

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