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Reynolda Gardens, 1917-1919, circa 1920s, and 1998

Catalog Data:
Wake Forest University
Landscape architect:
Sears, Thomas Warren 1880-1966
Buckenham & Miller
Conrad, Robert
Keen, Charles Barton
Keen, Charles Barton
Former owner:
Reynolds, Katharine Smith 1880-1924
Reynolds, R. J (Richard Joshua) 1906-1964
Physical description:
3 folders+ 61 glass plate negatives, and 4 35mm slides
Mixed archival materials
United States of America, North Carolina, Forsyth, Winston-Salem
North Carolina
Reynolda Gardens (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)
1917-1919, circa 1920s, and 1998
Reynolda was the county house estate of the founder of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, Robert Joshua Reynolds, and his wife, Katharine Smith Reynolds, comprising nearly 1,100 acres that included a 38,000 square foot house built for them by architect Charles Barton Keen. Reynolda was primarily conceived by Katharine Reynolds to include a family home with gardens, a village within the estate that housed the twenty families that worked on the self-contained estate, a 350-acre dairy, grain and vegetable farm, a 19-acre golf course with grazing sheep, and woodlands with thousands of daffodils. Before the house and formal gardens were built, Lord and Burnham constructed commercial greenhouses and a large glass conservatory on the property in 1913. Mrs. Reynolds decided to site a four-acre formal garden next to the greenhouses, near the public road, for the benefit of passersby. The first garden designers on the estate were Miller and Buckenham, and then Thomas Sears was brought in to design the viewable greenhouse garden, as well as gardens at the house and boathouse. The boathouse was sited beside the 16-acre artificial Lake Katharine created by Miller and Buckenham's stone-faced dam. The lake has since partially filled with silt and become a wetlands habitat.
Thomas Sears' 1917 formal greenhouse garden was divided into two rectangles, an approximately two-acre formal rose and perennial garden, and next to it another two-acre garden for fruit, flowers and vegetables. Grass panels that divided and surrounded the formal gardens were known as the sunken garden. The original rose garden was divided into four parterres, two planted with roses, one for blue and yellow flowers and the last for pink and white flowers. There were grass panels between the parterres with a double row of Japanese cedar trees on the horizontal axis. Rows of Japanese weeping cherry trees and southern magnolias were planted as a perimeter; later the trees shaded the rose garden to the extent that it had to be replanted when the garden was restored in 1997. Each axis of the two formal gardens ended in an attractive terminus, a feature of many of Sears' designs. These included pergolas and Japanese-styled teahouses for Katharine Reynolds, who wanted to include trees and features from Japanese gardens. Like the rose garden, the design of the fruit and vegetable garden was geometric with a central feature. At the time of its restoration, a large section of this garden was replanted with All-America selection roses, other flowers and herbs.
In the 1930's daughter Mary Reynolds Babcock and her stockbroker husband Charles Babcock bought her siblings' shares in the house and rehired Thomas Sears to redesign the gardens. Renovations to the house included moving the original central entrance to the side of the house, and new gardens were needed in front. A tulip and chrysanthemum garden was designed, with pink, white, blue and purple tulips and forget-me-nots complementing the colors of the new flagstone terrace. Summer flowers included heliotrope, plumbago, salvia, nicotiana, snapdragons and annual phlox, although heliotrope did not flourish in hot weather. Red, yellow, bronze, copper and terra cotta chrysanthemums were planted in autumn. Sears suggested poinsettias, camellias, chrysanthemums, gardenias and begonia semperflorens for a winter garden, but they were not winter hardy and were used for holiday decorations inside the house. Sears also designed a study garden in 1916, which comprises a patio with a recessed pool, stone benches and extensive plantings of rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs, a canopy of flowering magnolias, dogwood and crape myrtles, and an understory of ground covers, lilies, hosta, ferns and daffodils.
Reynolda is now the Reynolda House Museum of American Art. The gardens were donated to Wake Forest University in the 1960's by the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.
Persons associated with this property include R.J. (Robert Joshua) Reynolds (c. 1850-1918) and Katharine Smith Reynolds Johnston (1880-1924) (former owners, 1909-1924); Mary Reynolds Babcock and Charles Babcock (former owners, 1935-1953); Wake Forest College, later University (owner beginning in 1958); Louis L. Miller and Horatio R. Buckenham (landscape designers, 1911-1913); Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1965) (landscape architect 1915-1917, 1930s); Robert Conrad (horticulturalist, c. 1910-1960); Charles Barton Keen (architect, 1912-1917).
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. 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.
Additional materials also located in the Library and Estate Archives of the Reynolda House at Wake Forest University.
The folder includes photocopies of articles, images, transcript of a lecture and thesis by Sherold D. Hollingsworth, brochures, and other information.
Repository Loc.:
Smithsonian Gardens, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Capital Gallery, Suite 3300, MRC 506, Washington, DC 20013-7012
Local number:
Data Source:
Archives of American Gardens