Picturing the American Garden with Sam Watters

Lecture & Book Signing

That we know how gardens looked a century ago, we owe to early photographers. Among the most famous of this pioneering group was a Washingtonian with deep Southern roots — Frances Benjamin Johnston.

Trained in Paris, Johnston devoted her career to greening an America degraded by industrialism and the Civil War.

In a lecture illustrated with Johnston’s colored slides, Sam Watters travels back to an era when Johnston rallied women with checkbooks and trowels to restore beauty to American backyards.

“Reveille,” Elmer Mulford Crutchfield house, Richmond, Virginia, Servant’s cottage, hand-colored glass lantern slide, Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1929, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division


Sam Watters is an independent scholar educated in America and Europe. He is an historian who writes about post-Civil War houses and gardens. His next book will be on Richard Morris Hunt, architect of Biltmore and other landmarks, for Yale University Press, in association with the Library of Congress.


The Conference on Restoring Southern
Gardens & Landscapes
is presented biennially and co-sponsored by
Old Salem Museums & Gardens
Southern Garden History Society
Reynolda House Museum of American Art

21st Conference Supporters:
Salem Academy and College
Garden Club Council of Winston-Salem
Twin City Garden Club
Club of Twenty Gardens
Spade & Trowel Garden Club
J A L A, Jeff Allen Landscape Architecture, LLC
Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, NC Chapter

Picturing the American Garden with Sam WattersThursday, September 21, 20175:00 pm - 7:30 pmShirley Recital Hall, Elberson Fine Arts Center
Salem Academy and College
500 E. Salem Ave.
Winston-Salem, NC

The public is invited to “Picturing the American Garden: Photography and Restoration with Frances Benjamin Johnston, 1900-1930”, a lecture by Sam Watters.

Presented by the 21st Conference on Restoring
Southern Gardens & Landscapes
hosted by Salem Academy and College.

Tickets: $15 – at the door

Mr. Watters is author of Gardens for Beautiful America, 1895-1935: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston.

A reception and book signing follow the lecture. Mr. Watters’ book will be available for purchase.

Registration is required. $15 per person. Free to Salem students, faculty and staff (and included in admission for attendees of the 21st Conference on Restoring Southern Gardens & Landscape).

Frances Benjamin Johnston, Washington, D.C., ca. 1936, Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division