Sunday, March 23, 2008

PIONEERS OF AMERICAN LANSCAPE ARCHITECTURE: ARTHUR AND MARIE BERGER

PIONEERS OF AMERICAN LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
Arthur S. and Marie H. Berger
By Kurt Culbertson ©2008

Arthur Schoene Berger [1903-1960] and Marie Harbeck Berger [1907-1963], were among the earliest practitioners of the modernist approach to landscape architecture pioneered by Thomas Church, Garrett Eckbo, and others.

Arthur S. Berger was born in Hartwell, Harvey County, Kansas, on March 19, 1903. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in biology in 1925. Berger distinguished himself at an early age, producing at 24 the first autoluminar photograph.

By 1927 Arthur traveled to Europe and was living at 14 Wendell Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just off the Harvard University campus where received his graduate degree in landscape architecture in 1928. Berger was a finalist for the Rome Prize in 1929 and 1930. After one year with the Long Island State Park Commission in 1930, he worked the next five years for Ferrucio Vitale. Berger was then sent by the Vitale office to oversee the landscape construction of the Toledo Art Museum. Encouraged to stay in the city by prominent Tolego residents, he formed the firm of Berger and Linnard with Lawrence G. Linnard [1901-1983]. Linnard had also worked with Vitale in New York prior to moving to Cleveland to oversee _______. During their practice together from 1934 to 1937, they created the gardens of numerous large estates in the Toledo area including Elm House in Perrysburg, Ohio, as well as, projects in Detroit and Cleveland. From 1937 to 1944, Arthur spent his summer in Toledo and his winters in Dallas, Texas.

Marie Monica Harbeck Berger was born in Seattle, Washington, on June 11, 1907. A 1925 graduate of Grants Pass (Oregon) High School she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture in 1932 from Oregon State University, the last year in which a professional degree program in landscape architecture was taught there. The landscape architecture program was then moved to the University of Oregon in Eugene to be part of the School of Architecture and Allied Arts. Professor Frederick A. Cuthbert, Marie’s long-time friend and mentor, who had chaired the program at Oregon State, also moved to Eugene in the transfer.

Cuthbert assisted the young Harbeck in finding work initially with architect, Gardner T. Bailey, and then in the office of Thomas Church in San Francisco. There she completed the design of the L.D. Owen Residence in Sausalito, as well as, numerous other projects. Cuthbert remained in contact with Marie during her days in San Francisco. Marie assisted with student visits to the Bay area and maintained a lifelong interest in the program at University of Oregon. She exhibited at the Architectural League of New York prior to World War II. From 1942 to 1944, Marie contributed her design skills to the war effort by teaching camouflage techniques at the Camouflage Branch at Camp Belvoir, Virginia. There she met Arthur Berger. Arthur convinced Marie to join him in Dallas in 1945, first as his business partner, and then as his wife. The two were married on July 5, 1946.

They were soon recognized as among the foremost landscape architects in the country. Over time they added partners, Houston B. Bliss and Dick Heiderich, who joined in their design efforts. They designed numerous college campuses, including Trinity University in San Antonio and the Science Quadrangle for St. Mark’s School. Commercial and industrial work included the Texas Instruments Headquarters in Dallas, and the company’s offices on Speedway in Houston, the Dallas Furniture Mart, and the grounds of the Dallas Morning News. Other projects included the roof garden of the Dallas Public Library, a resort in Jamaica, and another resort in Salado, Bell County, Texas. Many of their collaborations were with the great San Antonio architect, O’Neill Ford.

They became noted for Texas gardens that utilized the interplay of light and shade, in that House and Garden Editor Dr. Joseph E. Howland, called “Texas Chiaroscuro.” Unlike Thomas Church and others who promoted large terraces as a means to outdoor living, Howland noted that the Bergers foresaw the universality of air-conditioned space and the movement indoors it would bring. Residential gardens included the McNaughton and Haggerty gardens in Dallas, the Frank Murchison home in San Antonio, the Fort Worth garden of Mr. and Mrs. O.P. Leonard, and San Domingo Ranch, the home of Texas oilman, Dudley T. Dougherty in Beeville, Texas. Their most significant residential design was Rancho Encinal, the home of the Everett Lee and Nell DeGolyer on White Rock Lake in Dallas. The couple also restored the gardens of Holly Hedges in Natchez, Mississippi, as well. This garden is now a key component of the Dallas Arboretum. Both Arthur and Marie were noted for their gentle personalities. They were adored by their clients with whom they closely collaborated in creating their gardens.

In 1958, the Berger’s traveled to Europe where their work was featured at the International Landscape Architecture Exposition in Zurich, Switzerland. Arthur and Marie were tireless supporters of the profession, frequently lecturing to schools around the country. Arthur’s last lecture was at the University of North Carolina in 1958. The following year, he was named an ASLA Fellow. Arthur died tragically in an automobile accident in Dallas on August 13, 1960 at the age of 57. Following Arthur’s death, Marie returned to Eugene. At the time of her death in 1964, Marie Berger, endowed scholarships in landscape architecture and horticulture at the University of Oregon, Oregon State University, and Trinity University in San Antonio.

Bibliography:

1. 1910 United States Census Record of Hartwell, Harvey County, Kansas, E.D. 85, 6B.
2. United States Border Crossing Records, indicated that Berger and his mother, Lena, arrived in the United States via Quebec aboard the S. S. Express, from Chersbourg, France, on September 19, 1927. They list their address as 14 Wendell Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
3. 1930 United States Census Record of New York, New York,
4. New York Passenger List, indicated that Berger arrived in New York, on March 2, 1939, from Naples, Italy, aboard the ship Rex.
5. Berger, Arthur S. “Factory Management and Maintenance,” April, 1940.
6. Berger, Arthur, “Plan the Shadows in Your Garden,” House and Garden 95, March 1949, 118-119.
7. New York Passenger List, indicates that Berger arrived in New York City from La Havre, France, aboard the De Grasse, on Nov. 27, 1949, Serila T 715, Roll T715_7764, page 2.
8. “O.P. Leonard Estate, Fort Worth, Texas” ,Condé Nast, June 1950.
9. “Pace Setter House,” House Beautiful, Feb. 1955.
10. “Berger’s Dallas Hilltop”, Interiors, February 1956, 78-83.
11. Howland, Dr. Joseph, Landcape Architecture, “Marie and Arthur Berger, A Tribute,” 1964. 266-270.
12. Dillon, David, The Architecture of O’Neal Ford, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1964, p.
13. “The Berger Garden,” ASLA Southwest News, March 1965.
14. “Grad Leaves OSU Fund,” The Oregonian, May 19, 1967.
15. Landscape Architecture, News Release, University of Oregon, News Bureau, March 6, 1968.
16. “110,000 Given to U of O For Landscape Scholarships” Eugene Register-Guard, Monday, March 11, 1968.
17. “ASLA Fellow Biographical Sketch,” Files of the American Society of Landscape Architecture, August 18, 1977.
18. Dillon, David, The Architecture of O’Neal Ford, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1999, 35, 60,79,81,101.
19. Texas Death Index 1903-2000, 89.
20. Treib, Mark, The Architecture of Landscape 1940-1960, “The 1955 Pace-Setter House,”Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002, 185.
21. Conversation with David Dillon, Architecture Critic, Dallas Morning News, March 16, 2008
22. University of California Berkeley SPIRO slide collection, contains two slides of the L.D. Owens House, 39 Atwood Avenue, Sausalito, California

Major Projects:

1. Rancho Encinal, the DeGolyer Estate (now part of the Dallas Botanical Garden), 8525 Garland Road, Dallas, Texas 75128, [1937] www.dallasarboretum.org
2. Elm House, the former home of Mr. and Mrs. Clare J. Hoffman, Perrysburg, Ohio [1938]
3. Mrs. L.D. Owens Residence, 39 Atwood Avenue, [Gardner A. Bailey, Architect] Sausalito, California [1939], garden by Marie Harbeck.
4. Mr. and Mrs. Frank T. Murchison Residence, 9 Ironwood Road, San Antonio, Texas [ab. 1939], [O’Neill Ford, Architect]
5. Mr. and Mrs. William McNeel Residence, San Antonio, Texas [1946 – O’Neil Ford, Architect]
6. Trinity University, One Trinity Place, San Antonio, Texas 78212-7200 1(210)999-7011 [ab. 1948 -master plan by William Wurster and O’Neil Ford, Architects ]
7. Berger Residence, 3906 Stonebridge, Dallas, Texas [ab. 1948 – O’Neil Ford, Architect, tragically destroyed in 1995]
8. University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas
9. Denver Public Library Roof Garden, Dallas, Texas
10. Dallas Furniture Mart, Hiline Drive, Dallas, Texas [Jacob E. Anderson, Architect]
11. Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas

12. The Restoration of Holly Hedges, Mr. and Mrs. Earl Hart Miller Residence, Natchez, Mississippi, [1949]
13. San Domingo Ranch, the Dudley T. Dougherty Residence, Highway 181N, Bee County, Beeville, Texas 78102, 1(361) 358-1244 [1950]
14. 3525 Turtle Creek Boulevard Apartment Building [1950] Howard Meyer Architect]
15. Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, Texas [1953-1959] [Howard Meyer, Max Sanfield, and William Wurster Architects]
16. The 1955 House Beautiful Pace-Setter House, Texas State Fair, [1954] [Harwell Hamilton Harris, Architect]
17. Texas Instruments Corporate Campus, Dallas, Texas, [1955], [O’Neil Ford, Architect]
18. Mr. and Mrs. Tom Slick Residence, Devine Road, San Antonio, Texas, [1957], [O’Neil Ford Architect]
19. Dallas Patrick and Bea Haggerty Residence, 5455 Northbrook, Dallas, Texas [1958 – O’Neill Ford, Architect]
20. St. Marks School of Texas, Science and Mathematics Quadrangle, 10600 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas 75230-4000 [Marie Berger, 1961 – O’Neil Ford, Architect]
21. Mr. and Mrs. Eugene McDermott Residence (founder of Texas Instruments), Dallas, Texas
22. Mr. and Mrs. Marshall Matson Residence,
23. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh McLaurin Residence, Dallas, Texas
24. Mr. and Mrs. Lewis McNaughton Residence, Dallas, Texas
25. Mrs. Wirt Davis Residence (President, Republic National Bank), Dallas, Texas
26. Mr. and Mrs. Roland Bond Residence, Dallas, Texas [O’Neil Ford, Architect]
27. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Urschel Residence, San Antonio, Texas
28. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Seeligson Residence, San Antonio, Texas [James Reily Gordon, Architect]
29. The Dewar Residence, San Antonio, Texas
30. Mr. and Mrs. B.F. Philips, Jr. Residence, 1815 Brookview, Dallas, Texas
31. Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Hartman Residence, (headmaster of St. Marks School) 10600 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas.