Monday, August 3, 2020

Goizueta Gardens: Olguita's Garden

If you've lived in Atlanta for a month or a lifetime, or even if you've visited Atlanta for a long weekend, you've been touched by the work and the incredibly generous philanthropy of the Goizueta family.

Olguita Casteleiro de Goizueta held many leadership roles through volunteer work with the Atlanta History Center, the Latin American Association, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art, and many others. Her husband, Roberto C. Goizueta, is well-known as the former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company who grew the company from $4.3 billion in 1981 to a high of $145 billion (some sources cite $180 billion) in 1997, the year of his death. That transformation of The Coca-Cola Company created a large number of millionaires in Metro Atlanta.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The Goizueta Foundation was formed only a few short years before Roberto's death in 1997, aged 65. Shortly after his death, Olguita became trustee and chairman of the Foundation and ran it most of the years of the rest of her life. 

Since its founding in the early 1990s, the Goizueta Foundation has provided support for more than 297 organizations through 638 grants, totaling more than $601,000,000!

On the occasion of Olguita's 80th birthday, her children gifted her a life-size portrait of her and her husband, by Atlanta artist Ross Rossin, displayed at the offices of The Goizueta Foundation. Perhaps the only more famous image of the two is one of them when they were teenagers on a date, both holding bottles of Coca-Cola.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Olguita, with her three children, stepped off a boat in Miami, having fled Fidel Casto-ruled Cuba. Roberto joined them soon after. They arrived in the U.S. with $40 and 100 shares in Coca-Cola stock (Roberto had worked for Coca-Cola when in Cuba).

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

She was a former member of the Board of Trustees of Emory University, where the business school is named for her husband, Emory University's Goizueta Business School

Olguita Casteleiro de Goizueta passed on November 16, 2015, aged 81. Olbuita's life was celebrated in a special service at the Monastery of the Holy Ghost with family, Foundation staff, her caregivers, and closest friends. 

Following Olguita's passing, the Board of Directors of the Goizueta Foundation includes the Goizueta's three living children, Olga Goizueta Rawls (chair and CEO), Javier Goizueta, and Roberto Goizueta.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The Goizueta Foundation has been generous to the Atlanta History Center since the early 1990s. Their initial grant to the Atlanta History Center was "to support educational programs" was for $75,000.

The Foundation's granting process focuses primarily on institutions of education and educational programs. They do not fund religious or political persons or entities. Their reach is a 10-county region in Metro Atlanta. 

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

To help visitors understand why you see the name Goizueta around the 33-acre campus of the Atlanta History Center, here are some of the contributions made to the Center by the Goizueta Foundation over the years:

1993-1996 - $75,000 to support education programs. 

1998 - $100,000 to support the Folk Life Festival.

2001 - $358,750 to develop and support the Distance Learning program for three years, and to expand and support the Outreach Program for three years.

2010 - $829,750 to implement a new education initiative to modernize the current curriculum as well as execute a new marketing program.

2013 - $3,000,000 to support the 33-acre Historic Gardens and Trails to engage new audiences through expansive historic outdoor spaces. 

2016 - $4,500,000 to establish and endow the Olga C. de Goizueta Memorial Garden, and to establish The Goizueta Foundation Endowed Fund for the Olga C. de Goizueta Gardens.

2017 - $4,000,000 to support Goizueta Gardens’ Living Collections management; to support rebranding of Goizueta Gardens' signage and marketing efforts over four years; and to establish The Goizueta Foundation Endowed Fund for Goizueta Gardens.

I am one of millions of Atlantans who are grateful to the Goizueta family for their thoughtful generosity and to the Atlanta History Center for being such mindful stewards of those kind gifts.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Planted along the outside wall of this garden, look for the special camellia—the "Olguita" camellia—introduced by the Atlanta History Center in 2018 in honor of Olguita C. de Goizueta.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

While "Goizueta Gardens" encompasses all of the gardens throughout the Atlanta History Center's 33 acres, "Olguita's Garden" is relatively new and it's absolutely stunning! Located just outside the back of the Museum Building, on the way to Swan House or Smith Family Farm, it's a beautifully landscaped ornamental garden with numerous flowers—particularly magnificent in the spring, but planted for year-round interest—espalier Keiffer pear trees, and comfortable antique French outdoor furniture for lounging. 

The focal point of the garden is a water feature surrounded by limestone columns designed by renowned Atlanta architect Neel Reid.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is the perfect spot for a small wedding or other social occasion! Ask any of the staff about hosting a special event here or visit the Private Events page on their website.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Olguita and Roberto had a fourth child in 1966 after coming to the United States, a son named Carlos, but tragically he passed of leukemia at a very early age, in 1970.

Olguita was a faithful member of Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Atlanta and frequently visited the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, where a statue of the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus are centered in the Memorial Plaza and Prayer Walk, gifted by Olguita Goizueta. There are plaques honoring the memory of her late son Carlos, as well as plaques for her and her late husband Roberto.

Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Olguita's Garden | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

When you next visit the Atlanta History Center's nine gardens, collectively named "Goizueta Gardens", be sure to stop by Olguita's Garden and explore and/or relax for a few minutes. Enjoy this lovely respite from busy city life. It's waiting just for you!

The Other Gardens: This is the seventh post in a series sharing the beauty of the nine gardens on the Atlanta History Center's 33-acre campus. You can find them all here.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Three Creeks Trail

A trail within a trail, Three Creeks Trail is just off of South Peachtree Creek Trail. There is a neighborhood entry to Three Creeks Trail, but I personally think you'll get the most out of it starting at the beginning. The biggest draw for Three Creeks Trail is the Old Decatur Waterworks, not only for its historical significance, but for it having become a canvas for urban artists in recent decades. And there's even more to see...

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I'm not sure when the Old Decatur Waterworks became a canvas for graffiti artists/urban artists, but it certainly is attention-grabbing! A lot of it is delightful, some of it is thought-provoking, and some of it contains "language", not Rated-G language either. Be prepared to answer certain questions if you bring the little ones here. Or, zip past this and continue with your exploration of nature and a few surprises!

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is the pylon you're looking for! 

This is the beginning of Three Creeks Trail. On one side of the pylon is a map of the trail. Go ahead and snap a photo of the map with your phone. On the other side is information about the former Native American residents. Cherokee and Creek Indians lived on these lands, as did other Native Americans dating as far back as 10,000 years ago!

What are the namesake three creeks you ask? There's South Fork Peachtree Creek (the larger of the three), Burnt Fork Creek, and Glenn Creek. Three Creeks Trail runs south of the 180° turn of the treetop boardwalk on South Peachtree Creek Trail. If you're traveling from the Medlock Park trail head, you'll enter Three Creeks Trail before you get to the 180° turn.

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There are more than a dozen structures here! Among them are large and small circular water tanks—they have water in them, but don't bother bringing your bathing suit. There's an administration building, and there are two rectangular settling tanks.

This Waterworks provided water to the City of Decatur until the late 30s, around 1939, according to my research. It continued to serve as a backup once the new facility went operational. This area also served as a public park for a period, until it was closed to the public during World War II.  

Old Decatur Waterworks was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, 100 years after construction started on the first structure, the Administration Building! It was recognized for its significance in the areas of politics and government, entertainment and recreation, and landscape architecture.

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I didn't explore Three Creeks Trail the first time I traveled South Peachtree Creek Trail. There are some really fun sights to see, including the 180° turnaround on the treetop boardwalk from far below. Back on South Peachtree Creek Trail, on this part of the boardwalk, is where you'll see the popular water tower.

I don't think I realized how high I was the first time I was on this section of treetop boardwalk. I was distracted by the design of the boardwalk and seeing the "famous" water tower I'd heard about.

I encourage you to look around while you're exploring...look all around! This particular path goes in a big circle, so you don't have the reverse view unless you decided to double-back.

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This part of the trail has gates on both sides of the creek, with signage encouraging caution when crossing here, warning about slippery rocks. And the bright orange hand rails are awesome! I'm sure they come in handy around dusk. 

There were plenty of dry spots on the rocks that I could see—and I'm mindful that the slippery could be on my shoes from mud I'd stepped in before getting to the rocks—I was more concerned that the rocks might not be secure. I really didn't want to swim around in the creek. I passed slowly and safely. 

When I was a kid, there was a time when we lived in the mountains—I've lived in the Smoky Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. Both gave me a love of nature that you just don't get living only in the city. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally a city guy, but I have a high regard and respect for nature, a gift received by spending so much time in forests and mountains.

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This I found particularly cool. I've seen stone-lined creek beds before, but I'd never seen one done more like cobblestone. I think this is beautiful. I wouldn't want to ride my bike over it (and it's not on the main path), but of course I walked over it. These kinds of surprises delight me to no end.

"Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries.” 

                                                        — Jimmy Carter


Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

He's so tiny that you might not be able to make out his sign. It says, "Gnome, Sweet Gnome". I assume this was left by a neighbor—it's very close to the Desmond Drive at Park Lane entrance to the trail. What a delightful little surprise to find so unexpectedly.

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Three Creeks Trail is a fun diversion off of the South Peachtree Creek Trail. I hope you'll make the time to explore it, a totally different experience from the main trail! The second half of the trail is more tranquil, albeit less flat. There are a few minor but interesting rock outcrops, lots of undergrowth, and you'll see terrain that's totally different from any part of South Peachtree Creek Trail. 

The loop closes back at the Old Decatur Waterworks, but on its other side, so you'll get to see quite a bit of those ruins, if you didn't already explore them extensively. 

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I enjoy graffiti art/urban art and Atlanta has truly embraced it as an art form. But, while most of the graffiti artists in Atlanta create their art respectfully and tastefully, others leave trash behind—the kind that someone else has to pick up. It's not only rude, it's disrespectful...to the environment and everyone else who would like to enjoy nature. 

Some of this trash I assume is left by visitors, not all of it by some of the artists. Paint away, just take your trash with you! Oh, and painting on directional signs (which creates dangerous situations) or educational signs is a total loser move. Stick to the ruins, please!

Please help spread the word about the Leave No Trace initiative. Why? So that we all, and future generations, can enjoy our parks, hiking trails, and other nature spots. It's up to us!

Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Three Creeks Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This link has a photograph of the Old Decatur Waterworks from the 1940s, which can help orient you to what you'll explore when you go hiking on the Three Creeks Trail. Remember, this one is a trail inside a trail. You get to it from the South Peachtree Creek Trail.

Go, enjoy nature, enjoy the ruins of the Old Decatur Waterworks, enjoy some awesome graffiti art, and look around for delightful surprises along your outdoor adventure.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

South Peachtree Creek Trail

South Peachtree Creek Trail is one of the more splendid trails I've explored recently. You have the option of trekking the 1.8 miles and returning on the same 1.8 miles, with a new view, all of which is boardwalk or paved—a nice bit of exercise, in the beauty of nature—at 3.6 miles total. There are a some of softer paths, too, if you'd like to explore a little off the main trail, and want to add to your total mileage, if you're going for distance or steps like I was initially.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The South Peachtree Creek Trail is available to locals and visitors through a partnership with DeKalb County and the PATH Foundation. It's incredibly maintained and has a few surprises along the way...the good kind, of course.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The above photo is a relic from the Old Decatur Waterworks. This particular water tower is mentioned a lot in earlier articles about South Peachtree Creek Trail, usually noting it being covered with urban art, or graffiti. Today it's mostly covered with undergrowth, but you can still see a little of the art on the back. This is near the 180° turn on the boardwalk, pictured below.

Three Creeks Trail, an off-shoot of South Peachtree Creek Trail, takes visitors through the Old Decatur Waterworks. There's quite a bit on that trail, so I've decided to share that in a separate post.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The boardwalk goes treetop at this point where there's a 180° turn on the trail. This is a dismount zone for cyclists. You'll see walkers, runners, and cyclists on the trail. And you'll see some regulars, if you find yourself going multiple times.

This is one of the best marked trails I've been on, which includes distance markers, so you know how far you've hiked and how much you have left. There are also signs specifically for those on bicycles indicating curves and that boardwalks can be slippery when wet. I would feel safe biking here, for the excellent signage alone.

There are multiple places along the trail where you can enter. The times I've been, I park at Medlock Park, which has ample free and SHADED parking! This is also the starting point for the distance markers along the trail.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This is definitely a wildlife habitat and one of the signs you'll see kindly reminds us:

PLEASE DO NOT HARM 
NATIVE CREATURES

YOU ARE A GUEST 
IN THEIR HOME


Some kids who were biking with their dad came across this little guy and they were totally fascinated with it. They were, of course, respectful and cycled around him.

You're likely to see a wide array of wildlife ranging from turtles to many species of birds and perhaps even some deer.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

About half way to the end of the trail at North Druid Hills Road (the turnaround point) you pass by Mason Mill Park. There's signage, but if you miss that you'll see (or hear) the tennis courts. 

I did not realize it when I visited, but the author I've mentioned on other hikes, the one whose book, Hiking Atlanta's Hidden Forests, has been a great resource, is a Ranger at Mason Mill Park. Although not available during the pandemic, Ranger Jonah McDonald leads nature programs and coordinates volunteer activities in the 120-acre forest around the park! 

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There have not been a lot of art installations on the trails I've been exploring—nature is so beautiful on its own that I haven't missed seeing public art. These colorful birdhouses are fantastical fun! I did not see a placard near them, so I don't know the creative genius behind them, but whoever did them created a spot of joy that you can't help but smile at when you pass by.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

On my first visit, I explored some of the side trails. One took me along the creek for a short distance, another took me along nearby train tracks, and one took me to where they intersect. 

This railroad trestle, operated by Seaboard Air Line Railroad, was used to transport construction materials to the Old Decatur Waterworks site, which dates back to the early 1900s.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I love how clever they were with seats in unexpected places, like the one above. There are additional benches, some quite stylish, along the trail, too. 

This is a destination for all generations! I've never seen a trail bring so many different people. There are kids and teens, young professionals, families, moms-with-strollers, middle-age folks, and lots of senior citizens. It was refreshing to see so much diversity.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This stone bridge, today part of South Peachtree Creek Trail, is from the 1907 Old Decatur Waterworks, which was abandoned in the 1940s. The Waterworks was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2006.

Just beyond this bridge on the left are remnants of a stone fountain that once graced the grounds of the former Decatur Waterworks. I had no idea what it was when I first saw it, but later found maps of the waterworks that had the fountain on them. 

Just beyond that, also on the left, is a pylon with informational placards about Three Creeks Trail (which I'll write about in another post), a trail within a trail. This loop trail takes visitors through the ruins of the Old Decatur Waterworks and beyond.

South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
South Peachtree Creek Trail | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There's also a branch of the trail that leads to Emory University Clairmont Campus. I have not traveled that one, but perhaps next time. It's entry point is well-marked and an obvious fork in the path. This is a big deal because it connects numerous neighborhoods with Emory University. I hope we see lots of examples of this for other colleges and universities around town.

You might not believe that you're inside the perimeter (inside I-285) while you're power-walking or meandering the South Peachtree Creek Trail. This trail, which offers quite a bit of shade (but still wear your sunscreen!), natural beauty, and it showcases a variety of ecological environs. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Goizueta Gardens: Swan House Gardens

Ask almost any Atlantan and they can tell you at least a little about the Swan House and the Swan House Gardens. Ask a Swan House enthusiast and you'll need to pull up a chair. In the same vein, ask about architect Philip Trammell Shutze and you're likely first to hear about Swan House. Its design inspired by classical Italian and English styles, Shutze created what was then, and even today, one of the most celebrated private homes in Atlanta.

The home was acquired by the Atlanta History Center in the mid 1960s and opened to the public in 1967, a delight to locals and visitors from around the world since.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

While the Inman family lost much of its wealth during the US Civil War, Edward Hamilton Inman (1881-1931) inherited a large cotton brokerage fortune. His interests included real estate, transportation, banking, and politics. He served on the City Council and at one point ran for mayor. He married Emily Caroline McDougal (1881- 1965) whose interests included philanthropy, politics, and society. The effects of their philanthropy continues to abound in Atlanta.

The Inman's built Swan House, completed in 1928, for more than $100,000 at a time when the average cost of a new home was $2,000, so you can imagine its splendor, which includes its acres of magnificent gardens.

The cascading fountain at the front of the house was designed after a similar one at Villa Corsini in Italy. Atop the attic cornice are two allegorical statues of "Spring" and "Autumn", the seasons during which Swan House Gardens are most spectacular. Their epic "front yard" is comprised of multiple tiers of gorgeous green grass, retaining walls, and fountains. Swan House is one of the most photographed structures in Atlanta.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The open arm stairway leading the the front door of Swan House is embellished with yellow Lady Banks Roses, a pop of complimentary color to the round-arched wall niches flanking the doorway, each inset with a shell motif and colored with sienna stucco. Lady Banks Roses are named for the wife of Sir Joseph Banks, renowned botanist and director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in southwest London along the River Thames.  

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Philip Trammell Shutze, still considered one of Atlanta's greatest architects, designed Swan House and Swan House Gardens. Sometimes, when Swan House is open for tours, you may have the opportunity to meet Shutze! The home will often host costumed, first-person interpreters who delightfully enhance visitors' experience of Swan House.

The exquisite Boxwood Garden is at the north side of the house. Immediately behind me (when taking this photo) is the Screened-In Porch, often open for visitors to enjoy. Some of you may recall this space as the Breakfast Room in President Snow's (Donald Sutherland) mansion in 2013's The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. He enjoyed breakfast with is granddaughter who was wearing her hair in the style of heroine Katniss Everdeen.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The paired columns atop a broken pediment framing a garden bench and a majestic eagle are located in the Boxwood Garden at the southern side of the house. This site is today used for many private events including fundraisers, corporate parties, and wedding receptions. 

This garden has also seen its day in the Hollywood spotlight. It was the site of the evening party at the Capitol in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire., starring Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen) and Josh Hutcherson (Peter Mellark). Also in the film were the Swan House lawn and the front of Swan House.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

These beauties are planted near or in the Boxwood Garden at the north end of Swan House. While white flowers are beautiful in any garden, as are these, I personally couldn't help but be reminded of President Snow's signature white rose when I saw these, given their proximity to the numerous scenes from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire when Snow was seen with said white rose.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

From this vista, you can see the back of Swan House (where the public enters the house), through the Boxwood Garden, all the way to Ambrose the elephant in Swan Woods, which extend all the way to the front of the expansive Swan House lawn.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There's ample statuary throughout Swan House Gardens, scattered thoughtfully and sparingly. To the left of the pair of duos here, at the south corner of Swan House, is a Victorian Playhouse! That playhouse, which grownups can fit inside, was built in downtown Atlanta in 1890. After several moves in Atlanta, it was donated to the Atlanta History Center by the William D. Ellis family in 1980.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Pink Dogwood Trees, filled with its namesake blossoms in spring, grow on the north side of the house, visible from the Dining Room and Breakfast Porch of Swan House, the latter not accessible to the public. If approaching Swan House from the bridge over the Quarry Garden, these beauties are one of the first things you'll see in Swan House Gardens in the spring. Many of the gardens here offer a delightful sense of tranquility.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Today's visitors, as did visitors in the late 1920s, entered through the back of the house, which a first-time visitor may mistake for the front of the house because of its grandeur. Even the garden on the opposite side of the driveway (pictured above) is splendid!

You may see a car or two in the driveway at the back entrance. Edward H. Inman was, among many other things, a car enthusiast. In fact, he held a number of racing records, when car racing was extremely dangerous! Not that it's not today, but there were considerably fewer safety features in race cars back then.

Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Swan House Gardens | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I don't know the provenance of this particular piece, perched in the garden overlooking the driveway at the back of Swan House, but I do know that it was relocated from the Sims Asian Garden. I think it's perfectly suited for this particular spot! I did not notice when I took the photo, but look closely...you'll see that the flower water spouts at the base are working!

Emily lived in Swan House until her passing 1965 at the age of 84. In 1966, the Atlanta History Center (then the Atlanta Historical Society) purchased the home and most of its original fabulous furnishings, ranging from 18th-century antiques to 20th-century objects. It opened to the public in 1967 as a house museum and the headquarters of the Center. Said HQ offices are today located in the museum building. 

I thought that it wasn't after Emily's death that the house was bestowed the name "Swan House", a nod to the numerous instances of swans in the house's interior decor, but a April 1936 article in The Atlanta Constitution that noted "...Inman's Swan House set in a 45-acre woodland". 

I've always loved visiting the Swan House and its gardens, not just because its name is so close to my middle name, Swann, but because of its magnificence, in design, architecture, and interiors.

In 2004, the Atlanta History Center completed a $5,400,000 restoration of Swan House and its furnishings. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Swan House Gardens are enjoyed by visitors and locals alike, throughout the year!

The Other Gardens: This is the sixth post in a series sharing the beauty of the nine gardens on the Atlanta History Center's 33-acre campus. You can find them all here.

Monday, July 20, 2020

INTERVIEW: Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios

I've been a fan of sculptor Martin Dawe for more than two decades, before I even knew it. Founder of Cherrylion Studios, Martin's sculptures are sublime works of art beautifying Metro Atlanta, the Southeast, and other locales in the United States and beyond. Primarily a commissioned artist, Martin's work brilliantly bridges commercial art and fine art.

Martin graciously granted me an interview, which I'm excited to share with you...

Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios | Photo by Jen DePlour
Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios | Photo by Jen DePlour

wanderlust ATLANTAWhere are you from? When did you move to Atlanta and why? What’s something about you that Atlanta doesn’t already know?

Martin Dawe: I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. My parents are from London, but I grew up in New Jersey. My father worked off Wall Street. I attended a progressive high school. I recall one of my teachers asking why I had not requested a letter of recommendation for art school. I was too "chicken" to immediately go to art school and instead went to the University of Maine where I studied Forestry Science for two years. 

Later I transferred to Boston University where I studied art. It offered instruction in figurative art, classical training. It was when I was there in 1979 that I fell in love and I moved to Atlanta for that love. 

wanderlust ATLANTA: What was the catalyst that led you to becoming a sculptor?

Martin Dawe: I'd always wanted to make art. By time I got to Boston University, I was better at sculpting than any other medium. My brain worked—and works—better in 3D. 

While attending Georgia State, I landed an apprenticeship under Julian Harris, who was 72-years-old at the time, the first sculptor in Georgia to make a living in that profession, all commissions! Mr Harris graduated from GA Tech in 1928, then got an art degree in Philly, came back to Atlanta and his fraternity brothers commissioned him for many years.

wanderlust ATLANTA: Michelangelo said, "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it." With what philosophy do you approach your art?

Martin Dawe: Although I work in a number of mediums, I prefer to work with clay. World-renowned French sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse, who taught Auguste Rodin, spoke of not sculpting dead, static material, but that all form has a speed and direction. That resonated with me and has inspired my artistic creation throughout my career.

"Landing Gear" by Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
"Landing Gear" by Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

"Landing Gear", a 12-feet tall stainless steel sculpture created in 2008, is Dawe's favorite. It's located at Terminus Atlanta in the heart of Buckhead. When competing for the commission, Dawe acknowledged the fast-pace decision-making of developers and instead of showing his portfolio, presented "Landing Gear", a piece he'd previous conceptualized but had not produced. As expected, the developer made a expedited decision. Dawe's "Landing Gear" is now enjoyed daily by a number of Atlanta's prestigious companies and their visitors.


wanderlust ATLANTA: You’ve shared before that “Landing Gear” is your favorite of your own work. Why is it your favorite?

Martin Dawe: "Landing Gear" was a spiritual piece for me. I ventured heavily in spiritual quests in high school and college. For this particular piece, when bidding to be the sculptor whose work would grace the new Terminus Atlanta building, I bypassed my portfolio and conceived this, so you could say that it's site-specific. This feeds into your last question, too. It was a piece where I had the opportunity for "creating speed and direction".

wanderlust ATLANTA: Who is your favorite sculptor in the world?

Martin Dawe: Javier MarĂ­na figurative sculptor from Mexico. His work is almost unbelievable! It's personal, inventive, and monumental. His studio is a complex with an amazing courtyard. Take a look at his work and you'll see what I mean. I'm also a huge fan of Polish sculptor Grzegorz Gwiazda, who is also a figurative artist. I’m basically a figurative artist, too.

"Martin Luther King, Jr. State Capitol Memorial" by Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
"Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Capitol Memorial" by Martin Dawe, Cherrylion Studios
Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. State Capitol Memorial" is an 8-feet tall bronze on a 3-feet tall marble base engraved with gold lettering. The overall pose is based on one of Dr. King walking out of the Alabama’s Montgomery County Courthouse. Dr King has a very difficult face to sculpt because there are a number of concave shapes and photos don’t show concave shapes well. I played a video of him from an interview he did on the sidewalk after the ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The lighting and camera angle are perfect, and he moves his head back and forth. I played it in slow motion on repeat mode hundreds of times.

wanderlust ATLANTA: Which of your works has had the greatest impact on an individual, corporation, or community?

Martin Dawe: In a city that so many African-Americans call home, perhaps ground zero of the Civil Right Movement, it wasn't until 2017 that the Georgia State Capitol installed a statue on its grounds celebrating one of her own African-American citizens, the late, great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The dedication was timely, too, only two weeks after the deadly neo-natzi hate crime in Charlottesville, Virginia. When protests for removing Confederate monuments were highly escalated, the installation of a statue celebrating the greatest Civil Rights leader in history made national and international news, feeding important conversations. 

"Dogwood Bench" by Martin Dawe | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
"Dogwood Bench" by Martin Dawe | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

"Dogwood Bench" was a gift to Piedmont Park from and on the 80th anniversary of the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Piedmont Park is the home of the annual festival. Dedicated in 2016, this interactive bronze has a magnificent backdrop, the Midtown Atlanta skyline!


wanderlust ATLANTA: The first time I met you was at the dedication of “Dogwood Bench” in Piedmont Park. Is being so personable and charming something that came naturally for you? What is your favorite way to interact with potential clients?

Martin Dawe: Okay, make me blush! That's just who I am. It's the way I was raised. I have a compassionate, wonderful, and loving mother, and four siblings. My mom is 100% love. She passionately disliked housework and anything typical of a "housewife". She ran girl scout and cub scout troops and school programs. She's unselfish, doesn't like attention on her...she's the very definition of humble.

There's already so much amazing art out there, I think I would get bored creating while isolated in a studio. There are those who look at commissioned artists with disdain—some are outright snobs—but I enjoy collaborating with clients. It fits my personality and it energized me.

"Hope" by Martin Dawe | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
"Hope" by Martin Dawe | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

"Hope" is a life-size, bronze of a young girl with a bird perched on her hand. Situated in the center of the Carter Center Rose Garden, this sculpture, installed in 2007, was commissioned by Mrs. J.B. Fuqua in memory of her husband. This is one of the first Martin Dawe sculptures I'd ever seen, before I knew about Cherrylion Studios.


wanderlust ATLANTA: What’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes story from one of your sculptures?

Martin Dawe: When conceptualizing a sculpture for the Carter Center I got to meet with former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. I'd researched the Center's website and came up with a concept that I felt was reflective of the international work the Center has done. After presenting my concepts, Mrs. Carter arrived, with full Secret Service entourage, and told me, "I've worked with people all of my life. When I go into this garden, I just want to see something pretty."  

wanderlust ATLANTA: What’s the most bizarre, kookiest, weird sculpture request you’ve ever received?

Martin Dawe: There really haven't been many, but there was that one time when I was asked to do a life-cast of a husband and wife having sex. That didn't go beyond a two-second conversation!

There are few sculptors who make a living at their art. I worked as a professional sculptor for eight years before making a profit. In the beginning, I made a lot of props for film, television, commercials, billboards, the holidays, and trade shows. I did get to do some work for Madonna's 1990 "Blond Ambition Tour", which was quite memorable. 

I can never forget creating a 12-feet wide McDonald's hamburger for a trade show promoting a new burger. The product flopped, but making that 12-feet wide burger survives in my memory.

That particular industry was very commercial. I wasn't happy and many of the people I encountered in that industry hated what they were doing. I'm grateful to be where I am now.  

"Prince of Wale's World Athletes Monument" by Martin Dawe | Photo by Travis Swann Taylor
"Prince of Wale's World Athletes Monument" by Martin Dawe
Photo by Travis Swann Taylor

The "Prince of Wale's World Athletes Monument" is located at the north intersection of Peachtree Street and West Peachtree Street. It was commissioned by the Prince of Wales Foundation for Architecture. These five 8-feet tall, bronze atlas figures on a 43-feet tall limestone base are well-known by people who lived here in 1996, during the Centennial Olympic Games. The monument was again in the news in 1997 when Princess Diana was tragically killed. Atlantans chose this site to show their grief with flowers and memorabilia laid at the base of the monument. Commissioned by the Prince of Wales Foundation for Architecture.


The current COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Cherrylion Studios. Typically they have 4-12 commissions going at the same time. They've had only 1 in the last three months—a bronze of a 1920s dancing couple! The day of this interview they received a new commission, an award commemorating a local philanthropist that we Atlantans know quite well. 

I hope you'v enjoyed getting to know Martin and hope you'll treat yourself to an adventure to discover the amazing collection of Martin Dawe sculptures right here in Atlanta!

Although considerably too early to ask about his legacy, I asked anyway, given Martin's prolific collection of works. His fatherly answer: "My kids. My twins are my legacy."