Posts Tagged ‘Kim Kelly’

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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The next day was a Tuesday.  Debbie and I drove to Hodges Gardens State Park.  We called ahead to make sure Park Manager Kim Kelly could meet, as she is the primary contact for our interest in park archives here at Hodges.  Again, with the southern heat in mind, we departed Natchitoches a little after 7am, and spent the morning photo-documenting the park landscape.

We met Kim in the Gift Shop at 11am and had a brief chat about some of our discoveries in the field.   We then walked through the break room into an office space in the back of the building.  Though we had heard some archives items existed, the amount of material that lay before us was incredible.  Scrapbooks piled up to three or four feet off the ground occupied a shelf on the left wall.  Kim took one book down, and it was full of historic site photographs.  I saw 4 or 5 book-sized scrapbooks, plus several oversized (a foot or so by a couple feet in closed dimensions) scrapbooks.  We opened three or four more, and found several more sections of photographs as well as newspaper clippings.  Slightly overwhelming, but wonderful–and full of so much potential.  Many answers to recent landscape evolution and backing details of certain elements of the significance of Hodges Gardens could be in these books.  Several more hours will likely be spent with these materials.

Scrapbooks at the Park. Here is a sample of some of the awesome scrapbooks at the Park. A.J. Hodges, founder of Hodges Gardens, hired historians to document correspondence and press that dealt with the Gardens.

Hodges Gardens promotional image. An colorful sample from the park archives. Image credit: Hodges Gardens archives.

Illuminating Engineering Society. Another archive sample. We were noting the architect Walker & Walker in the bottom left of the document. As the firm seems to be out of business, we are having trouble contacting anyone from this party. A landscape masterplan from Walker & Walker or someone else could be very beneficial at this time. Image credit: Hodges Gardens archives.

In addition to her showing us the archives, Manager Kim Kelly also shared several contacts with us–folks who might hold clues or have suggestions on where to look for more answers to questions that may arise during the documentation process.   Attempting to plan for the unknown can be overwhelming on complex projects, but this is often the best way to go.  [Here today..not necessarily here tomorrow].  We will continue to consult the list throughout the summer.

To-do List. A list of additional opportunities and tasks that was created in response to the park archives visit.

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