Charleston Gardens and the Landscape Legacy of Loutrel Briggs
A native of New York and a graduate of Cornell University, Briggs first visited Charleston in 1927 to experience firsthand the city's incomparable springtime beauty and picturesque charm. He opened a seasonal office in Charleston in 1929 and for the next three decades divided his practice between his summer office in New York and his winter office in Charleston. Briggs became a permanent resident of Charleston in 1959.
Briggs completed an impressive array of private and public landscape projects, including Mepkin, McLeod, Mulberry, and Rice Hope plantations; Charleston's Gateway Walk; the William Gibbes house garden; and the South Carolina Memorial Garden, but he is best known for his designs of many small Charleston gardens. He is credited with designing more than one hundred private gardens in Charleston's historic district alone. In these plans Briggs drew on his remarkable sense of scale, harmony, and tradition to work wonders in limited urban spaces. Featuring a distinctive emphasis on "outdoor rooms," some of these gardens survive today while others have been lost over time to natural causes, redesign, or neglect. Today Charleston is in danger of losing one of its most enviable but fragile assets—its legacy of Briggs' gardens.
Cothran's comprehensive work champions a renewed appreciation of the contributions Briggs made to Charleston's landscape tradition and serves as a timely call to action to preserve Briggs' gardens and legacy. The book also provides an inventory of Briggs' projects found in Charleston archives as a resource for further research, exploration, and documentation.
About the Author
"Charleston Gardens and the Landscape Legacy of Loutrel Briggs is a significant contribution to southern garden history, especially Charleston garden history. Few individuals have had as profound of an impact on Charleston gardens, their renaissance, understanding, and appeal as did Loutrel Briggs. Cothran's summary, review, and documentation of Briggs' long career, design genius, and eventual legacy will no doubt help rekindle and inspire preservation efforts."—A. Jefferson Lewis III, president, Southern Garden History Society
"Charleston Gardens and the Landscape Legacy of Loutrel Briggs is about the landscape architect most responsible for the look and livability of Charleston's gardens. It is also a call to action to preserve these exquisitely calibrated spaces. Briggs' use of carefully framed views, easy flow of formal spaces, and exquisite attention to detail and planting defined gardening for a city justly proud of its past. Now these twentieth-century gems are threatened. Cothran's work is beautifully presented. This book sets the stage for a revival of interest in preserving Charleston's important legacy."—Bill Noble, director of preservation, Garden Conservancy
"Loutrel Briggs contributed to Charleston's twentieth-century garden renaissance by preserving and renewing many historic gardens and by extending Charleston's unique landscape idiom into new spaces, always with respect for the city's culture and traditions. Much of his work in public and private properties throughout the historic district survives and is cherished today. Gardeners, historians, and all who appreciate the charm of Charleston gardens will be grateful for this careful study of his legacy. What James Cothran has achieved is no less than preservation through documentation."—Katharine S. Robinson, executive director, Historic Charleston Foundation
"The garden design legacy of Loutrel Briggs is captured through James Cothran's passionate investigation and detailed exploration of Briggs' landscape style, tried and true plant selections, and visionary efforts toward historic preservation. Cothran provides fascinating details regarding Briggs' desire to focus much of his career on the Charleston landscape, which ultimately has had such a lasting impact on his adopted city."—Besty Steele, president, Garden Club of South Carolina
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