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Posts Tagged ‘Hodges Gardens’

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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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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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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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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Last Wednesday, July 27, I posted to the NCPTT website and shared a summary of this Hodges Gardens research.  The National Center for Preservation Technology & Training progresses preservation research, and it partners with the private and public sector through education, training, and grants.  I provided a link on the NCPTT post to encourage more readers to visit this Exploring Hodges Gardens blog.   You can check out the post, and learn more about NCPTT and the Historic Landscapes program here at http://ncptt.nps.gov/category/historic-landscapes/

I hope you enjoyed the House Island photos shared in the previous post.  I have several more photos I would like to share, and am working on making images available on Flickr.com.  This will help keep blog posts at a reasonable length and provide an exciting atmosphere to continue expanding the online Hodges Gardens community through this historic landscape research.  View the Exploring Hodges Gardens Flickr photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/exploringhodgesgardens/   Many of the House Island photos I uploaded in Flickr were taken by Jennifer Mui, NCPTT Architecture & Engineering intern.

Exploring Hodges Gardens Flickr photo page. See more Hodges Gardens research photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/exploringhodgesgardens/

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House Island, historic residence of Hodges Gardens founders A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges, hasn’t been regularly occupied since A.J.’s death in 1966.  While Nona Trigg passed away in 1959, A.J. continued to occupy the house, and also remarried.  After 66′, I understand that only temporary visits and occasions brought family back to the house.

Bordered by a stone retaining wall around the entire island perimeter, House Island is currently closed to the public.  No trespassin’, please.  The Island is eight (8) acres of sparsely wooded, sloping, grassy land within a 225 acre lake. (This lake is usually unnamed, but I have seen it referred to as ‘Forest Lake’).  Though neglected for years, the Hodges residence (completed in 1956) is largely in good shape, and only minimally disturbed by rodents and water damage.  Though the house must be at least 10,000 square feet in size, the well constructed building is not an obtrusive money mound on the landscape.  Rather, the two story structure was tastefully cited partially within the hillside, and is tucked amongst mature trees (many of which were planted in the 1950s).  Last Friday, July 22 Debbie and I arranged a visit to the island with both NCPTT and Hodges Gardens staff.  There are abundant opportunities for future research at Hodges Gardens, including that of mid-20th century architecture.  Some photos from our guided visit follow.

NCPTT group approaches A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges House (circa mid 1950s), House Island, Hodges Gardens.

Retaining wall, House Island. This stone retaining wall circles the entire perimeter of the 8 acre island.

Boat dock, House Island. The island was connected to the mainland via a ferry that ran on an underwater cable.

A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges residence (completed 1956). Looking NNW toward house wing that faces southeast. Photo credit: Jennifer Mui, NCPTT Architecture & Engineering intern.

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