Landscape Artist, Samuel Parsons Jr ~ SD Union, November 10, 1902

November 10, 1902, 6:1-2.



Samuel Parsons, Jr. of New York, who is engaged as landscape architect for San Diego park, has arranged to reach the city about Dec. 10th. Mr. Parsons will remain ten days or longer and make a personal study of the whole 1,400 acre tract. Considerable time usually required for preliminary studies will be saved in this instance, as a contour map made several years ago is ready at hand. The studies and plans will require several month’s work to finish them, and Mr. George Cooke, the able partner of Mr. Parsons, will visit San Diego during next summer, to practically test the plan, and secure additional data. The complete design will be furnished at the end of 1903. It is Mr. Parsons’ intention to finish the working plan for first improvements at the south west section of the park, while he is in San Diego, and also to lay out the main driveway then.

Mr. Parsons’ work as landscape architect, is shown in the public parks and private grounds of twenty-two states during the past twenty-five years. For fifteen years he was in partnership with Mr. Calvert Vaux, one of the two original designers of Central Park, and for an equal number of years Mr. Parsons was superintendent of this same park. Mr. Parsons is at this time president of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and landscape architect for the American Society for the Preservation of Scenic and Historical Places and Objects. The business firm is Parsons & Co., being composed of Mr. Samuel Parsons, Jr. and Mr. George Cooke of New Gardens, England, whose work in Europe and America places him among the best men in his profession.

The work done by Mr. Parsons during his professional career includes the plan of Washington park, D.C., being the territory south of Pennsylvania avenue and north of B street, S.W., and between the Potomac and zoological parks. The appointment for this work was made by act of congress in 1900. In a national competition, composed of fifteen architects and landscape architects, Parsons & Co. were to lay out the seven hundred and fifty-acre park of League Island, Philadelphia. The first prize for a three-hundred acre park in Yonkers, N. Y., was awarded the firm, in competition. Among other public parks designed are a 60-acre park in Asheville, N. C., club grounds of 50 acres at Ardsley-on-the-Hudson, New York; sanitation grounds of 600 acres near Lakewood, N. J.;Evergreen cemetery, Brooklyn, N. Y.; Mount Pleasant cemetery, 100 acres, in Unionville, N. Y.; Haverford and Bryn Mawr colleges, and Colorado State university grounds and campus.

The country places of Mr. M. C. D. Borden, Oceanic, N. J.; Mr. Samuel Babcock, Stonington, N. Y.; Mr. Francis Lynde Stetson, Skylands, N. J.; Mr. Robert De Forest, Cold Springs, N. Y. The firm has just begun elaborate plans for the 5,000-acre country place of Mr. J. B. Haggin, near Lexington, Ky.

Mr. Parsons at present holds the important public position of landscape architect for Greater New York, which implies the control of the design of more than 100 parks, varying in size from 5,000 square feet to 1,590 (?) acres. In this official relation, Mr. Parsons controls everything affecting the parks, as the location of roads, paths, lawns, buildings, statues, trees, shrubs and flowers. In accordance with the terms of the new charter of Greater New York, the landscape architect has the power to exercise taste and judgment on these questions without possible let or hindrance, except by his removal through a majority vote of the three members of the board of the several boroughs of New York, when his successor may reverse his decisions. In the line of his public work, Mr. Parsons is at this time laying out ten parks, ranging from half and acre to fifty acres in extent. The firm of Parsons & Co. has besides much work in hand in New York: the grounds of the new Episcopal cathedral of St. John the Divine; the grounds of five churches of the Trinity church corporation; and the planting of shade trees on the boulevard from Fifty-ninth to One hundred and twenty-fifth street, over the rapid transit tunnel now being built under the entire length of New York city. In blasting for the necessary tunnel excavations, nearly 1,000 beautiful trees were removed, against the protests of the public. Parsons & Co. are now engaged in planting trees to replace those taken down, using large quantities of mold and a special system of irrigation to insure success and quick effects. This is one of the most elaborate systems of tree planting ever undertaken in New York, the work being done at the direction and expense of the rapid transit contractors.

In preparation for his life work, Mr. Parsons in this country, and in England and France. In the pursuit of his work, he has traveled extensively, and is familiar with the parks and flora of two continents. Mr. Parsons will visit the parks and notable gardens of San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Pasadena and other California cities, before reaching San Diego. Mr. Parsons said, “I am sure a grand opportunity must exist there for a beautiful and most interesting park.” A Californian who has talked to Mr. Parsons since his engagement to come to San Diego writes: “I am satisfied that Mr. Parsons is a very reliable man, and one who will conform his skill to the California requirements. He inspires the fullest confidence in his capacity to furnish the very best plan possible, and approves the idea of cooperation with local experts. He knows more now about our plant life than I do, after many years living there. No fear that he will impose any artistic impossibilities upon us. Mr. Parsons is conspicuously a commonsense man.”

Mr. Parsons is a member of the Century club, and other social and art clubs of New York, and is the honored friend of the best men in the city. His relation as a public official to the best journals in New York is phenomenal.

Trusted and tried in important public work during the past twenty years or more, Mr. Parsons has had the steady confidence and respect of the entire community, his character for public spirit and true citizenship ranking with his ability as a professional man. Mr. Parsons is sure to make a plan that will distinguish San Diego park among the best parks of the world. This opportunity comes to Mr. Parsons at a stage of his professional experience when the best work of his life is possible, and when this park can reasonably be hoped to be his masterpiece.


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