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Posts Tagged ‘Shreveport’

HG 6-7-11 DL 61

I’ve yet to hear back from Shreveport’s Eric Brock.  However, the Brock with which I connected and left voice mails may not be the author/preservation advocate Eric Brock I’m seeking.   As mentioned in the About section of the blog, posts are expected to be a mix of both discoveries and hurdles.

In the meantime, I have updated the ExploringHodgesGardens Flickr page, and I would encourage you to check it out.  The above photo is taken from near a large Ginkgo biloba tree on the middle level of the main garden area.  I think it captures a good example of an important element of the main design philosophy employed throughout the Garden, which celebrated existing topographic and drainage patterns to create a rich garden experience.  While the above pool is a 1950s constructed element, it widens and sits realistically below the above slope, which was an element of the early site’s existing conditions.

On the Exploring Hodges Gardens Flickr page, site visit photos are categorized into different sets.  Currently, the sets are arranged by location, and cover the following Hodges Gardens subjects: Visitor Center Facilities, Garden Areas, Administrative Area, Historic Greenhouse Facility, and House Island.  The photos are not necessarily works of art, but rather, are intended to document and present current conditions.  I plan to add more photos and to think of the Flickr page as a Hodges Gardens landscape features collection.  In addition to viewing by individual sets/subjects, it’s also enjoyable to employ the slideshow option.  Just look for the Slideshow button near the Share option on the exploringhodgesgardens photostream.  That’s http://www.flickr.com/photos/exploringhodgesgardens/.

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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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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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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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