Category Archives: American gardens

Life in gardens: bridal voyage

Bridal couple, Library of Congress

“Bridal pair starting on life’s voyage,” 1876, by Mrs. A. B. Mason, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

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Life in gardens: Detroit, Michigan

Detroit wall, 1941, J. Vachon, Library of CongressBlack children standing in front of a half-mile concrete wall  in northwest Detroit. It was built in 1941 to separate their neighborhood from a white housing development going up on the other side.

The photo was taken in August 1941 by John Vachon for U.S. Farm Security Administration and is via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The 1930s and 1940s were times of great growth for the city of Detroit and the inner-suburbs. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), founded in 1934, pushed the idea of home ownership as an accessible goal for the average working class. . . .

[However], the FHA’s policies of mandated racial homogeneity in housing developments and redlining made it difficult for African Americans to become home owners. . . . Between 1930 and 1950, three out of five homes purchased in the United States were financed by FHA, yet less than two percent of the FHA loans were made to non-white home buyers. . . .

Public or private housing being hard to come by in the city, some African Americans were able to purchase land lots around the Wyoming Avenue and 8 Mile intersection with hopes of eventually building houses. . . . When the FHA was approached by a developer wanting to build an all-white subdivision west of the site, funding was refused because the area was too risky for investment. In a compromise with the FHA, the developer erected the wall that was to divide the “slum” from his new construction project.

— “The Detroit Wall,” Wikipedia

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Vintage landscape: Pasadena, Calif.

Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, CA, FBJohnston, Library of CongressThe patio at Vroman’s Bookstore, 60 E. Colorado Street, Pasadena, California, Spring 1923, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Vroman’s Bookstore was founded in 1894 by Adam Clark Vroman and is still a Pasadena cultural institution, with three locations in the city.

However, the little patio above, with its fig tree and fountain, no longer exists. Vroman’s moved to 695 E. Colorado Street in 1929.

Johnston used this image in her garden and historic house lectures.


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The Sunday porch: Struan

Struan, Arden, North Carolina, via Library of CongressGrape vines over the porch of an old outbuilding at Struan, Arden, North Carolina, 1938, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Struan, Arden, North Carolina, cropped, via Library of CongressDetail of the above; note the potted plants on the old ladder.

By the time Johnston photographed the old plantation of Struan for her Carnegie Survey of the Architecture of the South, the property had been a school for boys, Christ School, for 38 years.

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The approach

The approach, Chasley, Alabama, an infrared by C. Highsmith, 2010, Library of CongressAn old cabin on the plantation of Chasley, Monroe County, Alabama, May 2010, an infrared photo by Carol M. Highsmith, via The George F. Landegger Collection of Alabama Photographs, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.


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