Bedford, New York

A corner of the Whitman Garden, Bedford, New York, between 1914 and 1949, a hand-colored glass lantern slide by an unknown photographer,* via Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection, Smithsonian Institution (used here by permission).

There are four more images of this garden here. It was designed by landscape architect Robert Ludlow, Jr.

The Archives holds over 60,000 photos and records documenting 6,300 historic and contemporary American gardens.  At its core are almost 3,000 hand-colored glass lantern and 35mm slides donated by the Garden Club of America, which is the source of this image.

(Click on the picture to enlarge it.)


*The slide manufacturer was Edward Van Altena.

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.

The Sunday porch: lattice and brick

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“William Windom house, 1723 de Sales Place, Washington, D.C., Terrace,” ca. 1925, four hand-colored glass lantern slides by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Johnston used these slides in her “Gardens for City and Suburb” lectures. (You can scroll through larger version by clicking on ‘Continue reading’ below.)

De Sales Place (now Row) is an alleyway between L and M Streets, N.W. (It connects 18th and 19th Streets.) The house is gone; an office building occupies the site.

The William Windom who gave his name to the home was twice Secretary of the Treasury, as well as a Congressman and Senator from Minneasota. He died in 1891. His son, also a William, may have been living in the house at the time of these photos.  He died in 1926.

[We] usually learn that modesty, charm, reliability, freshness, calmness, are as satisfying in a garden as anywhere else.

— Henry Mitchell, from The Essential Earthman

Continue reading “The Sunday porch: lattice and brick”

The Sunday porch: Venice patio

Venice hotel patio, Library of CongressProfessional photographers Gertrude Käsebier and Frances Benjamin Johnston eating together on a hotel patio in Venice, Italy, 1905, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Johnston — from Washington, D.C. — and Käsebier — from New York City — had traveled across the Atlantic at the invitation of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.  On the same trip, they also visited France, Switzerland, and Italy.

The older and more successful Gertrude Käsebier had been born in a log cabin in Iowa in 1852.   After marrying* a successful businessman of aristocratic German origins and having three children,  she began to study photography at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.  Within ten years, by the late 1890s, she had opened a studio on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

At the time of this photo, she was  “one of the best known photographers in the United States,” according to her Library of Congress biography. Her portraits of women and children were shown in major exhibitions and won her critical acclaim and financial independence.

Käsebier’s ability to discern the complexities of situations helped her achieve conflicting goals. She aimed to be associated with fine art and the upper classes but she enjoyed the relatively déclassé technical art of photography. She also wanted to earn a living, a desire that brought criticism from [Alfred] Stieglitz for sacrificing art to commerce, while society frowned on women participating in any kind of business. At a time when a salesman challenged women’s right to purchase high quality photographic equipment, Käsebier encouraged women to enter the professional world. For example, she befriended and supported Frances Benjamin Johnston, whose ambition and need to earn an income may have surpassed her own.

Kasebier worked until the mid-1920s, when she turned her studio over to her daughter, Hermine.

Johnston had a long career as well, ultimately specializing in architectural and garden photography.  She retired at age 81 in 1945.


*It was an unhappy marriage and inspired her to make this photo.