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«4. National Park Certification I hereby certify that the property is: _ entered in the National Register _ determined eligible for the National ...»

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United States Department of the Interior National Park Service / National Register of Historic Places Registration Form

NPS Form 10-900 OMB No. 1024-0018

Hodges Gardens Sabine Parish, Louisiana

Name of Property County and State  

4. National Park Certification

I hereby certify that the property is:

___ entered in the National Register ___ determined eligible for the National Register ___ determined not eligible for the National Register ___ removed from the National Register ___other, explain: ___________________________

Signature of the Keeper Date of Action

5. Classification Ownership of Property (Check as many boxes as apply.) Private Public – Local X Public – State Public – Federal Category of Property (Check only one box.) Building(s) X District Site Structure object Number of Resources within Property (Do not include previously listed resources in the count) Contributing Non-contributing 5 Sites 6 16 Buildings 17 Structures 6 1 Objects 34 17 Total Number of contributing resources previously listed in the National Register: 0

6. Function or Use

Historic Functions (Enter categories from instructions.):

LANDSCAPE/Garden/Natural Feature/Street Furniture/Object AGRICULTURE/SUBSISTENCE/Horticultural Facility/Irrigation Facility 2    United States Department of the Interior National Park Service / National Register of Historic Places Registration Form NPS Form 10-900 OMB No. 1024-0018 Hodges Gardens Sabine Parish, Louisiana Name of Property County and State   RECREATION AND CULTURE/ Outdoor Recreation/Music Facility/Work of Art/Commemorative Marker

Current Functions (Enter categories from instructions.):

LANDSCAPE/ Garden/ Park/Natural Feature/Street Furniture/Object AGRICULTURE/SUBSISTENANCE/ Horticultural Facility/Irrigation Facility RECREATION AND CULTURE/ Outdoor Recreation/Music Facility/Work of Art/Commemorative Marker

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Architectural Classification (Enter categories from instructions.):

Modern Movement: International Style Other: Googie Materials: (enter categories from instructions.) foundation: STONE / Sandstone, Concrete walls: STONE / Sandstone, Glass roof: Metal other: STONE / Sandstone Narrative Description (Describe the historic and current physical appearance and condition of the property. Describe contributing and noncontributing resources if applicable. Begin with a summary paragraph that briefly describes the general characteristics of the property, such as its location, type, style, method of construction, setting, size, and significant features. Indicate whether the property has historic integrity.) ______________________________________________________________________________

Summary Paragraph Hodges Gardens is the result of the passion, vision and financing of oil and timber businessman A.J.

Hodges and his wife Nona Trigg Hodges. It was and is a cultural, design, and horticultural venue of its time, mixed with significant accomplishments in forestry and conservation. Located in a few miles southeast of Florien, Sabine Parish, Louisiana, a mere 20 miles or so from the Texas-Louisiana border, Hodges Gardens is now a state park consisting of over 900 acres that includes gardens, roadways, manmade waterfalls, lakes, forests, islands, pavilions, and cabins. The park remains in good condition thanks to continuous care both by the A.J. and Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation and the Louisiana Office of State Parks. The contributing buildings within the park are designed in a midcentury modern style and stand out as such. This formerly over lumbered land was redesigned and reimagined by A.J. Hodges into a beautiful designed landscape and is eligible for listing on the National Register.


Narrative Description Hodges Gardens is an excellent example of a mid-20th century designed landscape. It is situated in the rural Piney Woods of West Central Louisiana on LA State Hwy. 171 in southern Sabine Parish, 5 miles south of the Village of Florien. Mr. Hodges began his conservation and reforestation efforts in the area that is now Hodges Gardens between 1937 and 1940 by purchasing 107,000 acres of barren cutover timberland. In the late 1940’s, after discovering a particularly picturesque area in his vast landholdings, he enlisted the help of renowned architects, landscape architects, horticulturists, and

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Significant features at Hodges Gardens include over 900 acres of wild and cultivated beauty, gardens, roadways, manmade waterfalls and streams, a 225 acre lake, islands, forests, pavilions, and cabins. Large boulders and rocks were left in place to preserve the history of the abandoned rock quarry and were used as the backdrop in the design of gardens. The property and contributing elements have retained their historic integrity.

Construction began in 1950 as a private retreat for oil and timber businessman, A.J. Hodges, and his wife, Nona Trigg Hodges. Their vision and plans expanded to a public garden that opened in 1956 and was officially dedicated on May 3, 1959.

After the passing of Mrs. Hodges in 1959, the privately owned property was transferred to the A.J.

and Nona Trigg Hodges Foundation in 1960. This non-profit foundation was created by Mr. Hodges to “promote conservation, religions and cultural projects”. The Hodges Foundation owned and operated the Gardens until closing the gates to the public in 2006. In 2007, through negotiations between the Hodges Foundation and the State of Louisiana, the interior 948.28 acres (including the 60 acre “Garden in the Forest” and 225 acre lake) was donated to the State of Louisiana for inclusion into the state park system. Instrumental in this transfer, was Florien native, Joe R. Salter, Speaker of the House of Representatives. The Hodges Foundation retained ownership of the 3,700 + acres outside the main loop road for timber management.

The interior 948.28 acres comprises all the acreage inside the 5.4 mile road that makes a complete loop to encircle the property that is the subject of this nomination. The entrance road is located on the East side of Hwy 171 and is a ½ mile asphalt road that crosses a sandy creek and gives visitors a preview of the hills and forest that they are about to experience. The road splits at the fee station where the loop around the property begins. The Gardens are to the left and the overnight facilities to the right. On the Garden side, the road leads to the Garden area and then follows the 225 acre crescent shaped lake, winding around the lower level gardens. The road continues and ascends to the midpoint and highest point of the property with an elevation of 466 ft. Here, the contributing elements, air strip and Lord and Burnham greenhouse complex were constructed and still remain today. The beautiful 5.4 mile drive around the property showcases what Caroline Dormon referred to as the “sand hills”.

The hardscapes, structures, buildings and gardens remain intact today. The Gardens remain open to the public today mostly in their original state, showing signs of age along with their timeless beauty and a feeling of peace and wonder of days gone by.

The rare, historic gardens sit delicately in this remote forest and stand as a unique, American expression of garden art and landscape architecture. They are the inspiration for this nomination, which includes the entire 948.28 acres due to the significant features throughout the property.

Hodges Gardens is considered a historic district for the purposes of this nomination that includes contributing and non-contributing buildings, sites, structures, and objects, which are further discussed individually in the following inventory.

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All of the non-contributing resources in Hodges Gardens are buildings (no structures, objects, or sites). The buildings that are considered non-contributing, which are further discussed in the inventory below, were all built outside of the period of significance and most were built within the last 20 years.

Of the 16 non-contributing buildings, 13 are overnight cabins, constructed in the late 1990s to help generate operational revenue for the Gardens. The other 3 non-contributing buildings serve the same purpose as their original counterparts. There are no resources in Hodges Gardens from the end of the period of significance until the non-contributing buildings were constructed. Although these buildings were constructed outside of the period of significance, the overall design of the district was started and completed more than 50 years ago and the majority of the resources were constructed within the period of significance, making Hodges Gardens eligible for the National Registry.


Contributing Elements:

(Note: for several resources, a construction date of c. 1954 has been used. The only research information found on these resources in the Hodges Gardens archives just lists dates of between 1950 and 1957 for their creation/construction. They were constructed during the period of significance, but their exact construction date is not known. Also, many of these resources were constructed at the same time – for example, the irrigation and water systems were installed as the roads were being constructed, as the lakes were being created, etc).

Sites (n=5 total contributing sites) The Gardens - (n=1 contributing site) (See photos 15, 28-30, 32, and 40); constructed c. 1954 The vast stonework is a common denominator of the Gardens, which has served to preserve its origin and history. Quarry miners working in the quarry, in the late 1800s, unknowingly left behind a tri-level area of rubble that Mr. and Mrs. Hodges determined would be a great place for a unique garden.

They enlisted experts from across the country in the fields of horticulture, conservation, forestry, architecture, engineering, and landscape architecture which would help in the design and development of “Louisiana’s Garden in the Forest”. What impresses greatly is the craftsmanship and attention to detail. The Garden style is best described as “natural”, following the natural contour of the land and the oddness of the old quarry with some of the most impressive stonework in American garden art. There are waterfalls, fountains, and flowing streams. There are great collections of plants, both native and domesticated. There are wonderful, original, architectural creations using stone, glass, and copper. Within the 60 acre garden approximately 2 miles of concrete walkways meander throughout, with inset concrete benches along the way. Pedestrian bridges in the same stonework found throughout the Garden, cross over the winding streams. The stoneworks in the garden are in keeping with the overall continuity of materials and patterns.

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Yet the gardens and the roads and trails are unique in Louisiana due to the steep topography. In addition to the remnants of the old stone quarry, pine trees abound in this Garden in the Forest. The Piney Woods Picnic Area is an example of the reforestation efforts, with the trees planted in exactly spaced rows. Due to the size of the trees, they are believed to be part of the original replanting efforts of Mr. Hodges. Hodges’ contributions to the reforestation of the thousands of acres of cutover land in the area and changes in the methods of the timber industry cannot be overlooked and are discussed in section 8 of this application.

In January 1964, Dr. Sigmond L. Solymosy with the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana, published the “Annotated List of the Plants Growing Naturally at Hodges Gardens.” According to Dr. Solymosy, he began the plant collections in 1958 and deposited the specimens in the USL Ornamental Horticulture Herbarium at the university. The alphabetical plant list includes 65 families with 115 genera and 164 species and varieties that were found.

The main Garden area was formally maintained, while the Natural Gardens were left in a more controlled, but wild state, with the fingerprints of Caroline Dorman. They contain native plants along the walkways, and bridges and streams. Both areas have retained a high degree of historical integrity. The Gardens are considered one site because they are not each a discrete, distinct area, but rather were designed to flow together as one cohesive unit.

Several specialty gardens are found within the overall Garden site:

 The Camellia Garden, constructed c. 1954 (photo #30) was the creation of the first chief horticulturist Walter Chalupnik. The 350 camellia trees (both sasanquas and japonicas) are nestled among tea olive trees. The branches of this collection form a canopy over the stone steps and walkways creating deep, dense shade. In the center is a seating area made of stone across from the statue of St. Francis. One of the specimen red maples sits just behind the memorial, providing brilliant red color in the fall. The camellia trees in this area are original to the garden as are the walkways and benches. No alterations have been made to this area and therefore it has retained its high degree of historical integrity and purpose.

 The Old Fashioned Rose Garden, constructed c. 1954 (photo #32) was developed with hundreds of roses that were the true definition of “old fashioned” during the period of significance. It was built in a geometric style that is a common design theme of the Gardens, with walkways in the same concentric shape connecting to pavilions on each end. This Garden was a feature in many of the promotional magazines between 1959 and 1964 entitled “Hodges Gardens Magazet”. Staying true to the name, today, this Garden contains antique roses that were introduced during the lifetime of A.J. Hodges (1890 – 1966). In 2008, repairs were made to the arbor around the Garden, in keeping with the original materials and design and without disturbing the roses. In addition, a deer resistant fence was installed to protect the roses, along with gates at each pavilion entrance. The purpose was to completely enclose the Garden to keep the deer out of the roses. The black plastic fence material was designed so as to not obstruct the view. Despite these minor repairs, this Garden has retained a high degree of historical integrity and purpose.

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