Monday, October 29, 9:30 am or 7:00 pm – Gardens for a Beautiful America

At the opening of the 20th century, pioneering photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864 – 1952) was front and center in the movement to beautify America. Gilded age industrialism had brought a new prosperity to life in the United States, but at the price of once pristine forests, rivers, and clear air. In response, the Garden Beautiful movement began. Johnston, a progressive and perhaps one of America’s first “house and garden” photojournalists, was enlisted to photograph gardens from coast to coast. Historian Sam Watters will reveal a sampling of Johnston’s images for lectures delivered across America to advance the Garden Beautiful movement. He will speak about her as an artist and the relevance of her work as a cultural history collection. Over the course of 5 years, historian Sam Watters scanned through millions of books and magazines to match Johnston’s unlabeled hand painted glass garden slides (now in the collection of the Library of Congress) to the sites they depicted, bringing them to light again after more than 70 years, and showing them as a collection of significance in his new book Gardens for a Beautiful America.

The morning lecture will take place at the new Weld Hill Research Building, 1300 Centre Street in Roslindale, and optional tours of the building will be available at 9:30 am for those registered for the morning lecture. For those unable to attend in the morning, an evening session will be held in the Hunnewell Building, 125 Arborway in Jamaica Plain. Due to space considerations, limited spaces are available for both lectures, and early registration will be encouraged. Co-sponsored by The Garden Club of the Back Bay with Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, Friends of Wellesley College Botanic Gardens, Photographic Resource Center at Boston University, and The Garden Conservancy.  Garden Club of the Back Bay members will receive written notification in the mail.  All others may register at  Fee to the public  is $20 through October 15, and $25 thereafter.