Henry Hoover and student confer about a design on cover of the last Lowthorpe catalog

Coincidental Meetings Between Creative People Shaped Lowthorpe Students

It’s incredible how coincidental meetings between creative people like Fletcher Steele, Henry B. Hoover, and Mabel Choate resulted in memorable landscapes and influenced Lowthorpe students. Fletcher Steele This man was associated with Lowthorpe in multiple capacities from 1915-45.  As befitting a Harvard-trained landscape architect, he worked briefly for the Olmsted office.  He then established his…

June Border at Munstead Wood

Jekyll Influence Evident at Lowthorpe and in Work of Graduate Landscape Architects

The influence of Gertrude Jekyll, the opinionated but highly-respected doyenne of British garden design from the 1890s through the 1930s, is evident at Lowthorpe and in the work of its graduate landscape architects.  The Lowthorpe library contained eight of Jekyll’s books.  They are now housed at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which eventually…

Sunken garden with perennials and low boxwood hedges

Glass lantern slides key tool for student recruiting

Mrs. Cyrus Winslow Merrell (Nellie Dryden Merrell) was the President of Lowthorpe School for several years in the mid-1920s.  She was also a Garden Club of America member from Connecticut and wrote articles about the school for the GCA’s Bulletin.  Clubwomen at the time usually referred to themselves using their husbands’ names.  That organization organized…

Glass lantern slide of Mrs. John Nicholas Brown's rose garden, Newport

Glass lantern slides used extensively in Lowthorpe classrooms

Glass lantern slides were used extensively in Lowthorpe classrooms. Students learned plant identification, design principles, and basic garden history during slide lectures.  How bright and colorful the glass lantern slides must have seemed!  Some were labeled with the name of an estate or garden owner, while others were completely unlabeled. A glass lantern slide is…

Lilium superbum flower

Strong Lowthorpe Presence in House Beautiful magazine, June 1927

It’s so much fun to comb through the garden magazines of yesteryear.  The advertisements alone are priceless!  We can learn about an era simply by paging through an issue. The June 1927 House Beautiful caught my eye because it’s packed with writing by Lowthorpe School graduates and faculty.  The Colonial Revival style was “it” for…

Selkirk Clark design for fieldstone stairs and planting beds

“Studying landscape architecture under ideal conditions”

A combination of hands-on horticulture and rigorous work at the drafting board were indeed the ideal conditions for studying landscape architecture.  Agnes Selkirk Clark ‘18 was so pleased with her Lowthorpe education that she was an enthusiastic spokeswoman for the institution for decades.   Her quote was repeated in the school catalogs, excerpted from an article…

How Landscape Architecture Came to the Curriculum’s Forefront

The landscape architect Stephen Child, who was on the Lowthorpe faculty in 1905, helped Mrs. Low to consolidate and focus the school curriculum. She credits him in her scrapbook. At the time, the new field of landscape architecture was fast-growing.  The booming US economy meant that many wealthy people were building country estates.  These properties…