Guide to the Olmsted Brothers Landscaping in Houston (J. R. Neal Gardens) Records, 1931-1939 MS 172
Olmsted Brothers Landscape Architects of Brookline, Massachusetts existed from 1857, when the firm designed Central Park in New York City, until 1950. The Neal gardens were the only residential project the firm did in Houston; there were three others in Texas, two in Dallas and one in San Antonio. The architect of the Olmsted firm who was chiefly responsible for the Neal project was J. F. Dawson.
J. Robert Neal (1894-1939) was made a vice president of Houston’s Second National Bank when his father used his share of the proceeds from selling the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company to buy controlling interest in the bank. From 1931 to 1939, the younger Neal devoted meticulous attention to the building of a home and gardens on a three-and-three-quarter-acre site in the River Oaks area, abutting the golf course of the River Oaks Country Club. He engaged noted Houston architect John F. Staub to design the house, and the Olmsted firm to design and plant the gardens.
This collection consists of correspondence, design documents, planting lists, and photographs that cover the history of the gardens designed for J. Robert Neal in Houston from the initial contact of the Olmsted firm to inquiries by the present owners of the property concerning restoration. The correspondence covers all aspects of the design and furnishing of the gardens, including invoices for irrigation features and detailed lists of columns, urns and vases. There are also letters having to do with the featuring of the gardens in the April 1937 issue of Country Life in America and with planning for an Historic Landscape Report as a preliminary to restoration.
This material is open for research.
Permission to publish material from the Olmsted Brothers Landscaping in Houston (J. R. Neal Gardens) Records must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
Olmsted Brothers landscaping in Houston (J. R. Neal gardens) records, MS 172, Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library, Rice University.
This collection is part of the Hutcheson and Allied Families’ Papers, donated by Joanne Seale Wilson, November 16, 2010.
Detailed Description of the Collection