Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Second Loutrel Briggs Garden "Discovered" in Pelham

A second historic "Loutrel Briggs Garden" has been "discovered" -- that is, rediscovered -- in the Town of Pelham. On October 20, 2005 I published to the Historic Pelham Blog a posting entitled "Historic Loutrel Briggs Garden 'Discovered' in Pelham Manor". In it, I described a recently "rediscovered" Loutrel Briggs Garden located in the rear of the "Lockwood Barr House" at 20 Beech Tree Lane. Today's posting will provide details of a second Loutrel Briggs Garden located in the last few days at 180 Pelhamdale Avenue.

The renowned landscape architect Loutrel Winslow Briggs (1893 – 1977) is widely noted as among the “Pioneers of American Landscape Design” who literally shaped our history. See Birnbaum, Charles A. & Karson, Robin, eds., Pioneers of American Landscape Design, pp. 35-37 (The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 2000). An expert on his work and the work of many of his contemporaries has described him saying “Briggs, above all others, is credited with establishing what is generally known today as ‘Charleston’s garden style.’” Cochran, James, Preserving Charleston’s Landscape Legacy, Historic Preservation, Vol. XV, No. 1, p. 2 (American Society of Landscape Architects, Spring 2005). In the last few years, heightened awareness of the importance of his work has led to surveys intended to identify remaining gardens that he designed, preservation workshops dedicated to teaching the owners of Briggs gardens how to preserve, document and maintain his original work, as well as lectures, tours and a weekend charrette all dedicated to Loutrel W. Briggs and his landscape architecture. See id., p. 3.

Research has revealed that the lovely home located at 180 Pelhamdale Avenue near the intersection of Irving Place includes much of an original Loutrel Briggs Garden designed and created in about 1928. Photographs of the Garden and the plans for the garden prepared by Mr. Briggs appeared in the following article: A Community Prize Winner - Garden of Mrs. W. W. Warner At Pelham, N. Y. - L. W. Briggs, Landscape Architect, Garden & Home Builder, pp. 526-27 (Feb. 1928). The Garden Plan published in that article appears immediately below:

Although much of the original garden seems extant, the circular pool on the main lawn is no longer visible and has either been filled or removed. The landscaped garden no longer appears to extend all the way to Irving Place (located at the bottom of the plan above). The pathway and steps leading from the area near the circular pool first to the circular "Naturalistic Garden" and then the circular "Rock Garden", however, continue to exist. The photograph immediately below shows that portion of the garden.

What appears to be "descendants" of early plantings remain throughout the garden although it is not possible to see from the public sidewalks around the home whether the Rose Garden and Drying Yard near the garage at the end of the driveway remain. Below are two photographs of the home located at 180 Pelhamdale Avenue. On the left is a photograph of the home from the above-cited article published in 1928. On the right is a photograph from roughly the same angle taken on December 17, 2005.

According to the 1928 article, "[t]he landscape architect's plan explains the relationship of the different individual features. The local community prize was awarded to this garden as being the one that was the greatest asset to the community as seen from the roadway. And this is achieved without sacrificing any sense of privacy in the really intimate parts of the garden. The rising contour materially helps in this treatment." Id., p. 526. The same article continues:

"Mrs. W. W. Warner's garden, at Pelham, is satisfying at all times of the year although the accompanying photographs show it in its early summer dress. When the Tulips bedeck the narrow borders adjoining the connecting walk from the main terrace to the rock garden, the feeling of intimacy and compactness to the owner is quite marked: yet as the lower photograph shows there is a broad stretch of open lawn for public view which is a splendid setting for the interesting groups of flowering shrubs (Azaleas, Rhododendrons, etc.) with Dogwoods and other small trees and the border of Phlox that so conspiculously edges the herbaceous planting." Id., p. 527.

This garden, according to experts on Loutrel Briggs, appears to be only the second Briggs Garden now known to exist in the northeastern United States. Undoubtedly others exist, waiting to be "rediscovered". Hopefully many more may be found in Pelham.

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At 3:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great post. Mr. Briggs is a genius. But I wonder who were his classmates? Did other talented souls matriculate at Cornell in the same degree program and put forth as pleasant a body of work as Mr. Briggs --- did he have interns and mentor others?


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