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Catalog Data

Creator:
Olmsted Brothers  Search this
Sears, Thomas Warren, 1880-1966  Search this
Harvard University  Search this
American Society of Landscape Architects  Search this
Donor:
Tibbetts, Eleanor Sears  Search this
Tibbetts, Eleanor Sears  Search this
Extent:
44.5 Cubic feet (4,317 glass negatives. 363 film negatives. 182 glass lantern slides. 12 photograph albums. 56 plans and drawings. 3 monographs. )
Type:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
Negatives
Blueprints
Albums
Plans (drawings)
Lantern slides
Date:
1899-1964
Summary:
The Thomas Warren Sears Photograph Collection documents examples of the design work of Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1966), a landscape architect and amateur photographer from Brookline, Massachusetts. Sears, who was based for most of his career in Philadelphia, designed a variety of different types of landscapes ranging from private residences, schools, and playgrounds to parks, cemeteries, and urban housing developments located primarily in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. In addition to some of Sears' design work, images in the collection document Sears' domestic and foreign travels, design inspirations, and family. The collection includes over 4,800 black and white negatives and glass lantern slides dated circa 1899 to 1930. While most images show private and public gardens, there are a significant number of unidentified views and views photographed in Europe during two trips he took there in 1906 and 1908. Few images are captioned or dated. In addition, there are over 50 plans and drawings, most notably for Balmuckety in Pikesville, Maryland and Reynolda in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and 3 monographs by or about Sears.
Scope and Contents note:
The Thomas Warren Sears Photograph Collection documents examples of the design work of Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1966), a landscape architect and amateur photographer from Brookline, Massachusetts. Sears, who was based for most of his career in Philadelphia, designed a variety of different types of landscapes ranging from private residences, schools, and playgrounds to parks, cemeteries, and urban housing developments located primarily in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. In addition to some of Sears' design work, images in the collection document Sears' domestic and foreign travels, design inspirations, and family. The collection includes over 4,800 black and white negatives and glass lantern slides dated circa 1899 to 1930. While most images show private and public gardens, there are a significant number of unidentified views and views photographed in Europe during two trips he took there in 1906 and 1908. Few images are captioned or dated. In addition, there are over 50 plans and drawings, most notably for Balmuckety in Pikesville, Maryland and Reynolda in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and monographs by or about Sears. Several of the glass lantern slides are duplicates of glass plate negatives in the collection. They apparently were chosen by Sears to illustrate some of his best design work, perhaps for lecture or client purposes. In addition, there are 56 plans and drawings, most notably for Balmuckety in Pikesville, Maryland and Reynolda in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. They range in date from 1917 to 1937 and from 1955 to 1964. Sears photographed some of his early plans; they are included in with the photographic images. Sears also photographed a handful of design plans by landscape architect Sibley Coslett Smith who practiced in Providence, Rhode Island; Sears and Smith shared the same business address there. The Thomas Warren Sears Collection does not fully document the extent of Sears' design work. The use of glass plate negatives—which make up the bulk of the Thomas Warren Sears Collection—as a photography medium waned sometime during the first quarter of the twentieth century. As a result, the images in the Sears Collection capture examples of Sears' early to mid-career design work but they do not include jobs designed by Sears during the latter half of his design career.
Arrangement note:
The glass plate negatives were originally housed in numerous cardboard boxes manufactured for the sale of undeveloped glass plate negatives. Sears annotated the outside of the boxes with project or client names and/or locations, but the contents do not always match these labels. In addition, because very few of the glass plate negatives and lantern slides were labeled or captioned, it is not always evident where one job ended and another began if multiple projects were stored in the same carton. As a result, there are many instances in the Sears Collection where images have been inadvertently mislabeled because their identification is not apparent. Misidentified images are subject to correction as their proper identification is discovered. Each project has been assigned its own unique AAG job number based on its geographic origin. Those groups of images that have not been identified as to their location have been assigned a project number starting with 'SRS.' The collection is arranged into 3 series: 1) Photographic images (including glass plate negatives, film negatives, glass lantern slides, and photograph albums) 2) Plans and Drawings 3) Monographs
Biographical/Historical note:
Thomas Warren Sears was born in 1880 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University in 1903 and Bachelor of Science degree in landscape architecture from the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard in 1906. Sears was an amateur photographer who won awards for his photography while at Harvard. In 1915 his images were published in the monograph, Parish Churches of England. After graduation he worked for the firm of Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects for two years and then briefly practiced in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1913, Sears established a landscape design office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he spent the remainder of his professional career. Sears at one point was in a professional partnership; some of his design plans list the firm name of Sears and Wendell. He was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1921. Sears designed many different types of landscapes ranging from private residences, schools, and playgrounds to parks, cemeteries, and urban housing developments. His designs were primarily located in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New York. Just a few of his private landscapes include Marengo in Easton, Maryland; Sunnybrook, the Isaac H. Clothier, Jr. estate in Radnor, Pennsylvania; and Balmuckety in Pikesville, Maryland. In 1915, Sears started work on Reynolda, a country estate in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He generated design plans for the property intermittently over the next two decades. Reynolda's formal gardens, greenhouses, and acres of fields and woodlands subsequently became part of Wake Forest University. During World War I, Sears designed Army camps in Battle Creek, Michigan and Spartanburg, South Carolina. He also helped lay out Langley Field, at that time an experimental aviation field in Hampton Roads, Virginia. In the 1940s, Sears designed the amphitheater at Swarthmore College in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania for concerts, outdoor performances, and other special events. During that decade he also worked on Colonial Revival gardens at Pennsbury, William Penn's country estate in Bucks County, Pennsylvania located by the Delaware River. Sears retired in 1964 and died in 1966.
Related Archival Materials note:
The Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project (PAB), administered by The Athenaeum of Philadelphia, includes references to design projects by Sears. Harvard University's Loeb Library includes a number of images by Sears, some of them documenting gardens that he designed. Harvard University's Fine Arts Library, Special Collections includes a collection of photographs and negatives of English parish churches by Sears, c. 1908. Some of the images were published in the monograph, Parish Churches of England. The Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina includes plans by Sears of Reynolda in its Estate Archives.
Provenance:
Gift of Eleanor Sears Tibbetts, Sears' daughter, to the Horticulture Services Division (later Smithsonian Gardens) in 1992.
Restrictions:
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: aag@si.edu.
Rights:
For information or study purposes only. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
Topic:
Photographers  Search this
Landscape architects  Search this
Gardens -- United States  Search this
Gardens -- Switzerland  Search this
Gardens -- Scotland  Search this
Gardens -- Italy  Search this
Gardens -- Germany  Search this
Gardens -- France  Search this
Gardens -- England  Search this
Genre/Form:
Negatives
Blueprints
Albums
Plans (drawings)
Lantern slides
Citation:
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Thomas Warren Sears photograph collection.
Identifier:
AAG.SRS
See more items in:
Thomas Warren Sears photograph collection
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Gardens
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-aag-srs