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Posts Tagged ‘Hare & Hare Landscape Architects’

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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The Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, the statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, met at the Hodges Gardens Gift Shop last Saturday, July 30 for a working meeting.  Hodges Gardens Manager Kim Kelly invited Debbie and me to the meeting and encouraged us to speak briefly on the history of the Gardens as well as on my research through this Exploring Hodges Gardens project.

Kim welcomed the group a little after 9am, and I shared a brief overview of the Hodges Gardens research.   Debbie covered some notable history of Hodges Gardens landscape architects Hare & Hare.  The Louisiana Trust is very much interested in Hodges Gardens, and would like to see the landscape nominated to the National Register of Historic Places.  As we continue to understand the the nationally recognized landscape architects’ influence on Hodges Gardens, this will bring more national significance to the property, which should increase its’ eligibility for a National Register listing.  The naturally-lit Hodges Gardens Gift Shop (c. 1962) provided a pleasant meeting space for the National Trust meeting.  Thanks again to Kim for connecting us with this group and introducing us to Louisiana National Trust leaders.

Discussion with the Louisiana Trust for Historic Preservation, the statewide partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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During the week of July 11-15 I continued field/office research, prepared a lunchtime lecture on my University of Arkansas senior capstone project, and attended the monthly Friends of Hodges Gardens Board Meeting.

Lunchtime Lecture. The National Center for Preservation Technology & Training is hosting a lunchtime lecture series this summer in which interns are invited to share past or current research. I spoke on my University of Arkansas senior capstone project, which included analysis and treatment recommendations on an historic vernacular landscape in eastern Oklahoma. Image credit: Sean Clifford, NCPTT.

I spoke on the Beck Mill Cultural Landscape in my lunchtime lecture hour.  A two semester senior capstone project, I summarized highlights of my research spanning initial site selection through final cultural landscape treatment recommendations and design proposals for an educational center/museum facility.  A multi-disciplinary project of archaeologists, historical architects, conservators, historic preservation consultants, and passionate locals, it was very exciting to contribute from a landscape architecture perspective.  To learn more about the historic Beck-Hildebrand Mill, visit www.thebeckmill.org.

On Friday, July 15 Debbie and I returned to the Garden for the Friends of Hodges Gardens monthly board meeting.  Much has been discovered since our meeting with them in mid-June, so it was exciting to share updates.  We shared the Hare & Hare landscape architecture discovery and also that of increasing interest in Hodges Gardens research, including our conversation with Carol Grove, Ph.D, University of Missouri.   We also mentioned some of the oral history interviews that have occurred.   Finally we discussed a thought on potentially engaging locals on the Gardens’ cultural significance research.  When Addy, Linda, and I recently met, Linda mentioned that many folks have chosen Hodges Gardens as the setting for their wedding engagement photography.  I shared Addy’s suggestion in encouraging photographed individuals/couples to submit a photo or two to a common place.  This was timely discussion as the Board planned to discuss their website design later in the meeting.  Perhaps a photo gallery on the web would be a great storage and display space.  Such an outreach project could help further build the supportive online Hodges Gardens community, as well as document/preserve a local significance aspect of the historical research.

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Yesterday afternoon John Byrd brought a flash drive of Hodges Gardens images.  Several are of early construction years when his father C.B. Byrd consulted and managed park operations.  In anticipation of John’s arrival at the upcoming morning meeting, I transferred the files onto my computer here at the office.  John offered to sit down and chat about the history captured in the photos, so I look forward to our meeting again in a week or so.

After reviewing my knowledge on Hare & Hare, I was ready to meet with folks over the landscape architectural drawings.  It was a casual meeting, and our main goal was to facilitate everyone’s interest in viewing the scanned drawings.  Several of us gathered in the conference room here at NCPTT:

–          Raymond Berthelot, Chief of Interpretive Services, Office of State Parks (Louisiana) [ In Natchitoches today for a meeting as well, Ray brought the scanned drawings from his office in Baton Rouge ].
–          Kim Kelly, Manager of Hodges Gardens State Park
–          John Byrd, President of the Friends  of Hodges Gardens
–          Kirk Cordell, Executive Director, NCPTT
–          Kevin Ammons, Administrative Officer, NCPTT
–          Debbie Smith, Chief of Historic Landscapes Program, NCPTT
–          Addy Smith-Reiman, Intern at NCPTT
–          Derek Linn, Intern at NCPTT

After brief introductions, we gave a quick introduction to the summer research.  I shared a bit about Hare & Hare, as I believe this discovery of their involvement brings even more significance to this special place called Hodges Gardens.

Established in 1910, Hare & Hare are considered one of the pioneering firms that helped establish and bring to light the profession of landscape architecture in the United States (Birnbaum & Karson).  I was glancing at the Hare & Hare entry in Birnbaum & Karson’s Pioneers of American Landscape Design, and found this:  “Hare & Hare’s designs emphasized winding roads contoured to natural topography, the preservation of trees and valleys, and scenic vistas.”  As Kim Kelly and John Byrd suggested previously, the landscape design was sensitive to, and benefitted from, the natural and quarry-influence topography. This really rings true to much of what one sees at Hodges Gardens today.

Opening the first file from the My Computer menu was like unwrapping a birthday present 10 years ago.  The 20+ scanned drawings were both interesting and beautiful.  Notably, several of the drawings communicated elements and designs that are not present today.  Though our investigation will continue, it appears that many of these such examples were preliminary drawings—a couple offering two or three design alternatives.

The drawings were in plan, section, and perspective views; a few sheets focus on construction details. Some focused on the Old Fashioned Rose Garden, the present-day Willow Point Fountain area, and the triangular gift shop approach up the hill.

The first page that we viewed was a Hare & Hare planting list for the Old Fashioned Rose Garden.  The following note is included: ‘plant names in this list are in accordance with “Standardized Plant Names” Second Edition, 1942 – American Joint Committee on Horticultural Nomenclature.

Special thanks to Raymond Berthelot for stopping by and sharing the images.

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With the scans priced at $25 per drawing, it was worth some time to try to locate who might have purchased these previously.

David Boutros at the State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center–Kansas City was really helpful, and we learned that a Raymond Berthelot purchased and received the scanned drawings in 2007.  Ray Berthelot.  Debbie and I immediately recognized this name.  Berthelot was listed on our initial contacts page as Louisiana State Parks’ Chief of Interpretive Services.

Although we initially received Berthelot’s name from Hodges Gardens State Park, we were in the understanding that the only drawings that existed were architectural ones focused on the buildings, and that even these were not purchased due to the expense.   To our pleasant surprise, the drawings were landscape architectural, and were purchased (though still quite pricey).

A quick sketch from my notebook below visually summarizes the following process of discovery:

  1. Receive list of associated persons’ contact information from Hodges Gardens State Park (individuals who might be able to assist with our research).
  2. Search archives and quiz a few of the contact persons (with the exception of Ray Berthelot and two others) on the location of original landscape design drawings or of the landscape architect on record;
  3. Discover Hare & Hare Landscape Architects are credited through a newspaper clipping in the Park archives; contact Carol Grove, person we know currently doing Hare & Hare research.
  4. Carol checks her Hare & Hare database and connects us with a Kansas City research center that appears to house Hodges Gardens landscape drawings.
  5. David Boutros (State Historical Society of Missouri Research Center–Kansas City) informs us that Raymond Berthelot (who happens to be a state park official on our contacts list) purchased and received the scanned drawings in 2007.
  6. Ray Berthelot finds and offers to share the drawings with us.
  7. The drawings are ultimately shared (at an upcoming meeting Tuesday June 28) with Hodges Gardens State Park and us; our research continues, with further direction.

Process sketch. See numbered list above for written account.

Lesson learned through this landscape documentation research episode:  Call ALL persons on initial contact list before diving into research or attempting to chase surface or detailed information.  Although we contacted several folks who shared clues, Raymond Berthelot had the masterplan drawings in his office downriver in Baton Rouge.

Either way, this is very exciting.  These drawings will help immensely as we gain a better understanding of the original designed landscape, and as we form conclusions about the evolution of the recent history of the land.  Ray Berthelot, Kim Kelly, John Byrd, Debbie Smith, perhaps others at NCPTT, and I plan to meet over these scanned drawings Tuesday morning here at NCPTT.

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