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Church, Thomas Dolliver (27 April 1902–30 August 1978), landscape architect, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of Albert Church, an inventor, and Wilda Wilson. He grew up in the ranching landscape of the Ojai Valley, California. Following high school in Berkeley, in 1918 Church entered the University of California at Berkeley as a law student but changed his major in 1919 after taking an elective course in the history of landscape architecture, graduating in 1922 with an A.B. in landscape architecture. After receiving an M.S. in city planning and landscape architecture from Harvard University in 1926, Church was awarded the Sheldon Travelling Fellowship, which enabled him to study historic gardens in Italy for several months and to travel in Spain, France, and England....

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Downing, Andrew Jackson (31 October 1815–28 July 1852), nurseryman and landscape gardener, was born in Newburgh, New York, the son of Samuel Downing, a wheelwright turned nurseryman, and Eunice Bridge. His youthful experiences in the Hudson Valley inspired his later interest in landscape and architectural design. As Newburgh grew from village into small industrial city, and as farmers increasingly raised fruits and vegetables for urban markets, Downing’s career evolved from that of selling garden stock to the landscaping of grounds and the design of rural and suburban homes. And as the pace of urban growth accelerated, he became the most influential early advocate of spacious parks within cities and codified the suburban ideal for middle- and upper-class Americans....

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Andrew Jackson Downing. Engraving on paper, c. 1852, by John Halpin. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of T. Bragg McLeod.

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Garrett Eckbo Right, with landscape architect Vernon Demars, working on a site model for defense housing in Vallejo, California. Photograph by Lee Russell, 1942. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USF34-072401-D).

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Eckbo, Garrett (28 November 1910–14 May 2000), landscape architect, was born in Cooperstown, New York, the son of Axel Eckbo, a businessman, and Theodora Munn Eckbo. In 1912 the Eckbos moved to Chicago. Eckbo's parents divorced, and Garrett and his mother settled in Alameda, California, where the small family struggled financially. After completing high school in 1928, Eckbo spent six months living in Norway with a wealthy uncle, Eivind Eckbo, whose sumptuous lifestyle inspired the young man to return to the United States and seek a paying job. Eckbo worked half a year as a bank messenger for the American Trust Company in San Francisco, diligently saving his money for college. In 1932, after a year in Marin Junior College in Kentfield, California, he enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley. He thumbed through the course catalog and decided to pursue its landscape design curriculum mostly because he had always liked drawing and playing with plants in his home garden....

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Eliot, Charles (01 November 1859–25 March 1897), landscape architect, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of Charles William Eliot, president of Harvard University, and Ellen Derby Peabody. He was born into a family of notable Massachusetts outdoorsmen, including great-grandfather Theodore Lyman of Waltham, grandfather Samuel A. Eliot, planter of the Norton Woods of Cambridge, and great-uncle Hersey Derby and great-grandfather John Derby, earliest members of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. For two periods, one while his father continued his education in Europe and then during his mother’s illness, the family lived in rural England and Switzerland. Eliot began school in Europe but returned to Cambridge in 1869. He received a classical early education that prepared him for entrance to Harvard College. Though his school work was periodically interrupted by incapacitating headaches and fevers, Eliot consistently pursued his enjoyment of the outdoors, sailing and camping during summers spent at Mt. Desert Island, Maine. At age seventeen he was studying drawing with ...

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Farrand, Beatrix Cadwalader Jones (19 June 1872–27 February 1959), landscape architect, was born in New York City, the only child of Mary Cadwalader Rawle, originally of Philadelphia, and Frederic Rhinelander Jones of New York, both of whom were well-to-do. (She was to take the name Farrand when she married in 1913.) She grew up in New York City, primarily in the care of her mother. Her parents were divorced before she was twelve. Like her social peers, she was tutored at home, where her education was enhanced by her mother’s artistic friends, including ...

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Griffin, Walter Burley (24 November 1876–11 February 1937), architect and landscape architect, was born in the Chicago suburb of Maywood, Illinois, the son of George Walter Griffin, an insurance agent, and Estelle Melvina Burley. His family moved to nearby Oak Park and then to Elmhurst during his childhood; he attended Oak Park High School. In 1899 Griffin received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois in the architecture program instituted by Nathan Clifford Ricker. The program stressed a scientific and rational approach to the subject, with less emphasis on design and historic styles. Griffin returned to Chicago, and for the next two years he served as a draftsman in the offices of ...

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Hubbard, Henry Vincent (22 August 1875–06 October 1947), pioneering landscape architect and planner, was born in Taunton, Massachusetts, the son of Charles Thacher Hubbard, a physician, and Clara Isabel Reed. Hubbard attended Harvard College, as had five generations of Hubbards before him, and graduated in 1897. Hubbard studied at MIT in 1897–1898, completing in one year the first two years of the course in architecture and hoping to continue study in landscape architecture. Since instruction in this subject was not available in any school in the United States at that time, he enrolled at the Harvard Graduate School, where he studied under the direction of ...

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Jensen, Jens (30 September 1860–01 October 1951), landscape architect, was born in Dybbol, Denmark, son of Christian Jensen and Magdalen (Maria) Sophia Petersen, affluent farmers. Although he became a German national as a consequence of the Danish-Prussian war of 1864, he was educated in the folk high schools of Denmark. After serving in the German army, Jensen came to the United States in 1884 with his wife, the former Anne Marie Hansen. Following brief periods in Florida and Iowa, he found a job with the West Park System in Chicago, rising to the position of superintendent of Humboldt Park, a position he held from 1894 to 1900. In that year he left the park system to establish his own practice as a landscape designer, only to return in 1906 as landscape architect and superintendent of the West Park System. He served in these capacities until 1909 and continued in a consulting relationship until 1920, when he resigned from the park service. Thereafter he enjoyed a large practice designing private estates throughout the Midwest and occasionally in other sections of the country. Among his clients were the Rosenwalds, the Kuppenheimers, the Florsheims, and, most important of all, ...

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Jones, Robert Trent, Sr. (20 June 1906–14 June 2000), golf course architect, was born in Ince, England, the son of William Rees Jones, a construction engineer, and Jane Southern Jones. The family immigrated to the United States in 1909, taking up residence in East Rochester, New York, where the father worked in a railroad car shop. As a teenager Robert Jones caddied at the Country Club of Rochester, occasionally for ...

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King, Mrs. Francis (17 October 1863–16 January 1948), garden designer and writer, was born Louisa Boyd Yeomans in Washington, New Jersey, the daughter of Alfred Yeomans, a Presbyterian minister, and Elizabeth Blythe Ramsay. Educated in private schools, in 1890 she married Francis King, a Chicago mercantilist. They established a home, “Orchard House,” in the central Michigan town of Alma, located about forty miles west of Saginaw. The couple had three children....

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Macdonald, Charles Blair (14 November 1855–21 April 1939), amateur golfer and golf course designer, was born in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, the son of Godfrey Macdonald, a wealthy Scottish-born merchant, and Mary Blakewell. He was raised in Chicago. Macdonald attended St. Andrews University in St. Andrews, Scotland, from 1872 to 1874. After returning to Chicago in September 1874, he worked as a stockbroker and became a member of the Chicago Board of Trade. In 1884 he married Frances Porter; they had two daughters. The family moved to Garden City, New York, in 1900, when Macdonald became a partner in the brokerage firm of C. D. Barney & Co....

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Nolen, John (14 June 1869–18 February 1937), city planner and landscape architect, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of John Christopher Nolen, a carpenter, and Matilda Thomas. His father died when Nolen was less than a year old. When the boy reached the age of nine, his mother enrolled him in Girard College, a school for fatherless boys. The college imbued Nolen and his classmates with the precept of self-improvement through hard work, intellectual development, clean living, and physical exercise. After graduating with high honors at the age of fifteen, Nolen worked for the Girard Estate Trust Fund, seeking to save sufficient money to continue his education....

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Frederick Law Olmsted. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-36895).

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Olmsted, Frederick Law (26 April 1822–23 August 1903), landscape architect and travel writer, was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the son of John Olmsted, a dry goods merchant, and Charlotte Hull. Olmsted’s mother died when he was three, and between the ages of seven and fifteen he received most of his schooling from ministers and private academies outside Hartford. In 1837, when he was about to enter Yale College, severe sumac poisoning weakened his eyes, leading to a decade of desultory education at the hands of a civil engineer and several farmers, interspersed with seven months with a dry goods firm in New York City, a year-long voyage to China, and a semester at Yale. In 1848 his father bought him a farm on Staten Island, where he lived for the next eight years, practicing scientific agriculture with special interest in tile drainage of soils. He read widely in these years, being especially influenced by ...

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Olmsted, Frederick Law, Jr. (24 July 1870–25 December 1957), landscape architect, planner, and public servant, was born on Staten Island, New York, the son of Frederick Law Olmsted, the progenitor of the profession of landscape architecture in the United States, and Mary Cleveland Perkins Olmsted, the widow of Olmsted’s brother. Called Henry Perkins at birth, he was renamed Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., at about age four by his father and thereafter informally known as “Rick.” Since his father worked from home, Olmsted was immersed in the family business from his earliest years. He traveled with his father to job sites and on European study trips and helped out in the office during school vacations. In 1881 the senior Olmsted moved the family to Brookline, Massachusetts, where the Olmsted firm continued in practice for nearly a century. Frederick Olmsted received his A.B. in 1894 from Harvard, having planned his course of study with the expectation of becoming a landscape architect....

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Platt, Charles Adams (16 October 1861–12 September 1933), artist and architect, was born in New York City, the son of John Henry Platt, a corporate lawyer, and Mary Elizabeth Cheney. Born into a comfortable and cultured family, Platt became interested in the arts at a young age. In 1879, while on summer vacation, he was introduced to the newly revived fine art of etching by Stephen Parrish, a Philadelphia artist and one of the leaders of the etching revival. Platt’s early experiments in this medium earned him the epithet of “the boy etcher,” critical acclaim, and financial success. For most of his etchings, he chose marine landscapes, in which he explored the interaction of light, water, and atmosphere. Although he continued to etch throughout his life, Platt also studied painting from 1878 to 1882 at the National Academy of Design and the Art Students League in New York. Dissatisfied with the instruction in New York, he traveled to Paris in 1882 for five years of training, first on his own and later at the Académie Julian. He concentrated on figure study in Paris but eventually returned to his love of landscape, winning in 1894 the prestigious Webb Prize for landscape painting from the Society of American Artists. In 1886 he married Annie C. Hoe, who died in childbirth losing twin girls the following year. Platt subsequently married Eleanor Hardy Bunker, the widow of painter ...

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Ramée, Joseph (26 April 1764–18 May 1842), architect and landscape designer, also known as Joseph-Jacques Ramée was born in Charlemont in northern France, the son of Jacques Ramée and Anne Dieudonnée Lambert. Little is known of Ramée’s parents, but an uncle, Jean-Louis Lambert, a chaplain at the Cathedral of St. Pierre in Louvain, helped raise the boy and encouraged his artistic talents. About 1780 Ramée became an apprentice to the architect François-Joseph Belanger in Paris. From Belanger, Charles-Nicolas Ledoux, and other innovators, Ramée assimilated the latest styles of neoclassical architecture, interior design, and picturesque landscape planning....

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Shipman, Ellen Biddle (1869–29 March 1950), landscape architect, was born probably in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the daughter of James Biddle, a career officer in the U.S. Army, and Ellen McGowan. Her family’s domicile was determined by her father’s military orders. A book titled Reminiscences of a Soldier’s Wife...