Savannah’s pioneer female landscape architect Clermont Lee transformed our public spaces. Now you can see her drawings online

Drawings by Georgia’s first female landscape architect Clermont Lee are now publicly available online thanks to a collaboration between the Georgia Historical Society and the Digital Library of Georgia.

From 1940 through the mid-1980s, she made landscape designs for clients in Savannah, Georgia, and throughout the Southeast.

“These designs provide insight into the less-well documented elements of preservation and restoration projects throughout the state,” notes G. Andrew Fleming, the Friends of Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites executive director.

Clermont Lee was a pioneering figure in the history of landscape architecture,” says Nate Pedersen, Manager of the Archival and Reference Team at the Georgia Historical Society. “We expect her drawings to be of significant interest to historic preservationists, landscape architects, gardeners, and scholars around the country. As such, we are delighted to be able to freely share her drawings online and are grateful for the support from the Digital Library of Georgia.”

Plans for many Georgia and South Carolina residences, churches, schools, city blocks, office buildings, parks, airports, and historic sites are among the detailed design drawings now available at GHS. Lee is probably best-known locally for her mid-to-late twentieth-century work designing formal gardens for several of Savannah’s historic house museums, including the Owens-Thomas House and the Green-Meldrim House, as well as plans for several of the Landmark District’s beloved squares. Across the state, Lee’s designs include plans for the Chief Vann House in Murray County and Baptist Village in Waycross.

Fleming also adds: “These types of records are invaluable in helping establish a complete picture of our state’s historic spaces.”

About Clermont Lee

Clermont Huger Lee, born in Savannah in 1914, was the city’s first female architect in private practice. She worked as an assistant to T.M. Baumgardner of the Sea Island Corporation during the Great Depression. She became interested in historic gardens in the 1940s after receiving her education at Barnard and Smith Colleges.

As one of the first professional female landscape architects in Georgia, Lee worked with and independently of some of her era’s leading preservationists. She focused on preserving, recreating, and reinterpreting historic gardens and landscapes. This was an aspect of the preservation movement that she felt was ignored in many plans that focused on historic structures. 

Lee represents a less recognized part of the movement’s story as both a professional woman working in the field and as a preservationist focused on the natural environment. Historic preservation, particularly during the mid-twentieth century, was associated primarily with professional male architects and developers. Women (usually wealthy white women) worked as volunteers and activists. 

In addition to her work in Savannah, she worked on projects throughout Georgia and in cities such as Jacksonville, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. Lee also worked on the founding of the Georgia State Landscape Architects Board.

Clermont Lee passed away in 2006 on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

About the Georgia Historical Society

Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide research and educational institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history.  GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation. Visit georgiahistory.com/  

Selected Images:

North Way and Adams Street triangular plat, page 1 of 2 (Darien, Georgia).  Courtesy of Georgia Historical Society
Chief Vann residence, page 1 of 2 (Murray County, Georgia). Courtesy Georgia Historical Society
Frame Company- Realtors (Ridgeland, South Carolina). Courtesy of Georgia Historical Society
Historic Madison Square, page 1 of 4 (Savannah, Georgia). Courtesy of Georgia Historical Society
Isaiah Davenport House, page 4 of 4 (Savannah, Georgia). Courtesy of Georgia Historical Society
Troup Square, Habersham Street, and Macon Street, page 1 of 5 (Savannah, Georgia). Courtesy Georgia Historical Society
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R.J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation-Funded Magruder Newspapers Now Available

Miners Recorder and Spy In The West. (Auraria, Lumpkin County, Georgia) March 29, 1834, Page 1

As part of a $17,980 grant from the R. J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation, the Digital Library of Georgia has digitized over 77,000 pages of Georgia newspaper titles in partnership with the Atlanta History Center

The newly-released collection includes rare nineteenth-century titles from north Georgia and previously unavailable titles from larger cities across the state. 

The project creates full-text searchable versions of the newspapers. It presents them online for free in its Georgia Historic Newspapers database

Users will be able to search the database for geographic, corporate, family, and personal names.

142 titles have been digitized from the following Georgia cities:

Alpharetta, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Auraria, Brunswick, Calhoun, Canton, Cassville, Carrollton, Columbus, Cumming, Dahlonega, Dalton, Douglasville, Marietta, Milledgeville, Gainesville, Griffin, Harlem, LaGrange, Lawrenceville, Lumpkin, Macon, Newnan, Norcross, Rome, Savannah, Thomasville, Valdosta, and Winterville.

Titles of interest include:

Miners Recorder and Spy in the WestA newspaper published in the north Georgia mining town of Auraria during the Georgia Gold Rush in the 1830s.

The Progressive Era – An African American newspaper published in Athens, Georgia, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The Soldier’s Friend – A Christian newspaper published out of Atlanta for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War.

The Kennesaw Route Gazette – A newspaper published by the Western & Atlantic Railroad Company for its train passengers.

 

The full list of titles digitized as part of the grant includes:

Alpharetta Free Press, 1893

Athens Chronicle, 1885-1888

Athens Clipper, 1901-1904

Athens Evening Chronicle, 1889

Athens Evening News, 1895

Athens Weekly Chronicle, 1878-1882

Athens Weekly Chronicle, 1889

Atlanta Advance, 1891

Atlanta Commercial, 1895-1896

Atlanta Daily Examiner, 1854-1855

Atlanta Daily Post, 1879-1880

Atlanta Evening Capitol, 1885-1887

Atlanta Evening Herald, 1893

Atlanta Post-Appeal, 1882

Atlanta Weekly Examiner, 1855-1856

Atlanta Weekly Post, 1880-1881

Atlanta Universalist, 1881-1882

Atlanta Whig, 1872

Banner and Baptist (Atlanta), 1862

Baptist Banner (Atlanta), 1862-1864

Baptist Banner (Cumming), 1880

Baptist Sun (Gainesville), 1889

Brunswick Advocate, 1861

Brunswick Appeal, 1879

Carroll County Times (Carrollton), 1880-1885, 1895

Cassville Gazette, 1835

Cherokee Advance (Canton), 1880, 1898

Cherokee Advocate (Marietta), 1848

Cherokee Agriculturist and Patron of Husbandry (Dalton), 1875

Cherokee Georgian (Canton), 1875-1876

Cherokee Intelligencer (Canton), 1833-1834

Christian Index (Atlanta), 1879-1881

Christian Index (Atlanta), 1892-1897

Christian Index and Southern Baptist (Atlanta), 1881-1892

Columbia Advertiser (Harlem), 1881-1882

Columbia Sentinel (Harlem), 1886-1887

Columbus Daily Times, 1878-1885

Dahlonega Watchman, 1846

Daily Argus (Dalton), 1910-1911

Daily Chronicle & Sentinel (Augusta), 1850

Daily Dispatch (Savannah), 1894

Daily Evening News (Macon), 1865

Daily Journal and Messenger (Macon), 1865

Daily New Era (Atlanta), 1865-1868

Daily Press (Atlanta), 1894

Daily Sun (Columbus), 1865-1873

Daily Tribune (Rome), 1880

Dalton Argus, 1882-1911

Dalton Enterprise, 1875

Evening Call (Griffin), 1899

Evening Herald (Atlanta), 1882

Evening Post (Brunswick), 1890

Evening Sentinel (Augusta), 1878-1879

Gainesville Eagle, 1879-1914

Georgia Banner & Sentinel (Newnan), 1861

Georgia Constitutionalist (Augusta), 1845

Georgia Courier (Augusta), 1833-1835

Georgia Grange (Atlanta), 1873-1877

Georgia Literary and Temperance Crusader (Atlanta), 1861

Georgia Major (Atlanta), 1883

Georgia Pioneer, and Retrenchment Banner (Cassville), 1835-1839

Georgia Record (Atlanta), 1899-1900

Georgia Statesman (Milledgeville), 1827

Graphic (LaGrange), 1889-1900

Great Kennesaw Route Gazette (Atlanta), 1886

Hustler of Rome (Rome), 1894-1898

Ice Berg (Winterville), 1897

Independent Blade (Newnan), 1861

Jewish Tribune (Atlanta), 1896

Kaleidoscope (Atlanta), 1885

Kennesaw Gazette (Atlanta), 1886-1890

Kennesaw Route Gazette (Atlanta), 1875

Kind Words for the Sunday School Children (Macon), 1877

Living Issues (Atlanta), 1893-1894

Looking Glass (Atlanta), 1894-1897

Landmark Banner & Cherokee Baptist (Atlanta), 1859-1861

Lawrenceville News, 1861

Lumpkin Palladium, 1860

Macon Daily Telegraph, 1860

Macon News, 1898

Marietta Advocate, 1861-1863

Marietta Helicon, 1847

Marietta Semi-Weekly Advocate, 1861

Miners Recorder and Spy in the West (Auraria), 1834-1837

Monochord (Macon), 1886

Morning Call (Griffin), 1898-1899

Motive (Atlanta), 1896

Mountain Signal (Dahlonega), 1861

Mystic Owls (Atlanta), 1880

National Republican (Augusta), 1868

New South (Douglasville), 1891-1906

New Western Railway Guide (Atlanta), 1887

New Working World (Atlanta), 1886

Norcross Advance, 1873-1874

North Georgia Times (Dalton), 1860-1863

North Georgian (Gainesville), 1878-1883

People’s Friend (Rome), 1873

Pilgrim’s Banner (Valdosta), 1895-1897

Progressive Era (Athens), 1899

Republican Herald (Columbus), 1836

Rome Courier and Southern Statesman, 1859

Rome Hustler-Commercial, 1898-1899

Rome Tribune, 1893-1897

Rome Tribune, 1900

Rural Southerner & Plantation (Atlanta), 1875

Savannah Daily Evening Recorder, 1879-1881

Savannah Daily Times, 1884-1886

Savannah Gazette, 1817

Savannah Morning News, 1879-1883

Savannah Weekly News, 1894-1898

Semi-Weekly True Flag (Rome), 1861

Soldier’s Friend (Atlanta), 1863

Southern Alliance Farmer (Atlanta), 1889-1892

Southern Confederacy (Atlanta), 1861

Southern Farm (Atlanta), 1893

Southern Recorder (Milledgeville), 1846-1856

Southern Statesman (Calhoun), 1855

Southern Whig (Athens), 1834-1839

Southerner and Commercial Advertiser (Rome), 1861

Standard of Union (Milledgeville), 1836-1840

State Press (Macon), 1857-1859

Sun and Columbus Weekly Enquirer, 1874

Sunday Gazette (Atlanta), 1878-1880

Sunday Phonograph (Atlanta), 1879-1881

Times (Savannah), 1880-1881

Tribune-of-Rome, 1890-1891

Weekly Atlanta Intelligencer, 1867-1870

Weekly Augusta Chronicle, 1893-1898

Weekly Banner (Athens), 1895

Weekly Chronicle & Constitutionalist (Augusta), 1881-1883

Weekly Chronicle & Sentinel (Augusta), 1843-1851

Weekly Constitution (Atlanta), 1870-1874

Weekly Constitutionalist (Augusta), 1862-1869

Weekly Georgia Constitutionalist and Republic (Augusta), 1852-1855

Weekly Republic (Augusta), 1849-1851

Weekly Southerner (Rome), 1861

Weekly Star (Douglasville), 1885-1887

Weekly Tribune (Rome), 1893-1895

Western Georgian (Rome), 1838

Western Herald (Auraria), 1834

Wire-grass Reporter (Thomasville), 1861

Woman’s Work (Athens), 1888-1910

 

Paul Crater, vice president of collections and research at the Atlanta History Center, emphasizes the impact that the digitization of  these newspapers will have on researchers of Georgia history:

“Composed of over 4,600 newspapers, the collection was assembled by William Grisham, a North Georgia resident who served as clerk of court for Cherokee county and postmaster for his community. 

The collection was donated to the Atlanta History Center in 2001 by Nell Galt Magruder, a descendant of Mr. Grisham.

The collection includes essential regional publications from Atlanta, Milledgeville, Marietta, Rome, and Augusta. 

It also has rare editions of the Cherokee Intelligencer, Miners Recorder and Spy in the West, and The Southern Whig

The collection is a valuable source for those interested in pre-Civil War Georgia, the Cherokee Removal, the North Georgia gold rush, the Civil War, Southern agriculture, and genealogy.”

 

About the R. J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation  

The purpose of the R. J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation Trust is to promote genealogical research and study in Georgia in conjunction with the Georgia Genealogical Society and the Georgia Archives. Grants are made to individuals and organizations to defray the expense of publishing (print or digital) records of a genealogical nature from public and private sources. The primary emphasis is on preserving and making available to the public genealogical data concerning citizens of Georgia who were residents prior to 1851. Visit the R. J. Taylor, Jr. Foundation at http://taylorfoundation.org/  

 

About the Atlanta History Center

The Atlanta History Center through its collections, facilities, programs, exhibitions, and publications preserves and interprets historical subjects pertaining to Atlanta and its environs and presents subjects of interest to Atlanta’s diverse audiences. Visit the Atlanta History Center at atlantahistorycenter.com

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