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Posts Tagged ‘Walker & Walker Architects’

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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Exciting news >  I found an updated email address for Eric Brock, Shreveport area author and historic preservation advocate, and was pleasantly met with a prompt reply.   Eric wasn’t sure about the extent of Lambert Landscape Company’s involvement at Hodges Gardens, but he did offer some helpful advice.   Eric noted that Lambert was based in Shreveport until shortly after Gordon Lambert’s death.  According to Lambert’s website, this was around the year 1935; therefore, Lambert was established in Dallas at the time of their association with Hodges Gardens.  (However, based on conversation with another Shreveport individual, it appears that the Lambert company may have had two (2) establishments around this time: one facility that was more of a garden supply store, and one facility that housed the garden/landscape design team.  It is possible that these facilities moved to Dallas at separate times).

Eric also recommended my connecting with the LSUS Archives and Special Collections in Shreveport.  Past NCPTT intern Erin White had recently mentioned LSUS as well, and so I have been in touch with Archivist Dr. Laura McLemore there.  In searching their online index, I discovered yet another potential Hodges Gardens related designer name: Eugene Herbert Fleming, III, architect and AIA member.  LSUS has a Fleming collection called “Eugene H. Fleming, III, Architectural Records, 1952-1962.”  One collection item is titled ‘Hodges Gardens’ and happens to be a photograph of Lookout Tower.  As I’ve found Lookout Tower architectural drawings labeled Walker & Walker, does this suggest Fleming was associated with or a member of the Walker & Walker?  At least one other collection seems to be related to the Hodges Gardens historic landscape research interest.  I’m currently in contact with McLemore to learn more on the nature of these potential items.  As McLemore seems to know a bit about the Lambert company and Fleming, a visit to this LSUS archive may soon be on the schedule.

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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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As mentioned earlier, Hodges Gardens holds opportunity for much future research–in architecture, landscape architecture, horticulture, 1950s/1960s tourism, adaptive reuse of architecture/landscapes,  archival and collections planning/management, sustainable site development/management, Louisiana history, and other areas.

The potential for these opportunities has further come to light with me upon some recent archival discoveries.  In addition to an impressive scrapbook collection of newspaper articles and on-site photos, several other items have been preserved by the Hodges Foundation.  Below are some outstanding House Island discoveries.

Studying site layout plan for House Island. The contour lines note that the elevation at the top of House Island sits a little more than 27 feet above the water's edge.

Architectural model, Hodges residence. This is our photograph of an image capturing this model. Construction of the residence was completed in 1956; the pool was not implemented. Credit: Hodges Foundation.

Hodges Residence, downstairs floor plan, Walker & Walker Architects. Note four primary wings with a plan view of the tunnel bending out of the western wing. Credit: Hodges Foundation.

Hodges Residence, downstairs floor plan, tunnel area detail, Walker & Walker Architects. Credit: Hodges Foundation.

Connecting Tunnel, House Island. Looking west, toward boat landing. This stonework-constructed gently sloping tunnel connecting the House Island boat landing with the bottom level of the Hodges residence. The proposed master plan in the above image shows the tunnel in plan view.

Hodges Residence, upstairs floor plan, Walker & Walker Architects. The central living area occupies the south wing, master suites occupy the west wing, and the dining room and porch/porch kitchen occupy the east wing. Restrooms are located near the intersection of the four wings while additional bedrooms/baths occupy the north wing. Hodges Foundation.

Central living area, Hodges residence. As noted in the floor plan above, the central living area occupies the majority of the south wing of the residence. Photo credit: Jennifer Mui.

Tiled bathroom wall, Hodges Residence. The good overall condition and craftsmanship visible at the residence today is proof of the quality of construction of this building in the 1950s.

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