Monday, August 31, 2020

Goizueta Gardens: Entrance Gardens

With more than 5,000 flowering perennials and native grasses, visitors to the Atlanta History Center are in for a beautiful welcome exploring the new Entrance Gardens, one of the nine gardens within Goizueta Gardens here.

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Completed in 2020, this year, this new garden space is already a big hit, whether viewing on your way into the museum building, enjoying lunch outside of Souper Jenny, or relaxing at the new wood tree table

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

It's planted in a naturalistic design, not over-designed and complicated, making it a more relaxing experience.

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

A spectacular masterpiece of the new gardens is the “tree table,” a 60-foot-long work of art made from a declining oak that had graced the campus for 130-plus years. Now it will continue to host visitors in a different fashion. I'm so glad it's still here and did not go to the wood chipper! 

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The repurposed tree was sliced vertically and is now laid out in the tree's original silhouette ... it's brilliant! Can't you see yourself here enjoying lunch or an afternoon snack or reading a book from the gift shop?

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The flowers are beautiful, some of them familiar while others species might be a temporary mystery, but lovely all the same.

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

It was obvious from the beginnings of this garden that it's planted with flowers that attract bees and butterflies. Keep your cameras at the ready!

Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Atlanta History Center | Entrance Gardens | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I don't know if this side area is considered part of the Entrance Gardens, but it's opposite the parking deck so I included it, because it's so beautiful. 

Enjoy your visit!

The Other Gardens: This is the ninth and final 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.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Monastery of the Holy Spirit

On a recent hiking excursion I found myself not too far from Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia, and I'd been wanting to visit for a while. Although the interior spaces are closed during the current pandemic, it was a beautiful, relaxing, and meditative experience. 

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Just exploring the grounds, which are beautifully landscaped, was amazing. Near the entrance is the museum—their Monastic Heritage Center—a garden center, and a gift shop. There's a large directory/map at the front, which is an excellent orientation tool—it helped me fully explore, especially on an impromptu visit.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The gift shop is beautifully appointed and, when open, also features baked goods—including biscotti, fudge, and fruitcake—some of them baked by the resident monks. 

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Among the numerous trades practiced by the monks, their stained-glass creations—which began in 1957 when they designed and installed stained-glass in the Abbey Church—are today installed in institutions and homes around the globe. Be sure to check out the stained-glass Benefactor's Wall near the entrance where you'll see some familiar names.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I've not seen the Abbey Garden Center, but did get to see a number of bonsai, in their Bonsai Garden/Nursery. The monks at the Monastery have been crafting classical bonsai for more than 35 years and this was one of the first places in the Southeast to offer bonsai to the general public. In the Garden Center you can buy bonsai trees, pottery (pots and statues), and garden/gardening accessories

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I headed to the Abbey Church via the Prayer Walk, first pausing in the Memorial Plaza, at the center of which is a white marble statue of the Virgin Mary holding Baby Jesus.

This solemn, beautiful space was gifted by Mrs. Olga C. de Goizueta (who I wrote about recently). The Goizueta family is one of Atlanta's wonderfully generous philanthropic families—through The Goizueta Foundation—for which we're ever grateful. Olga, her husband Roberto, and their late four-year-old son Carlos Alberto (who passed in 1970), are memorialized here.

Along the Prayer Walk, on the way to the Abbey Church, is another space dedicated to contemplative prayer. Be sure to read the placard that informs you about St. Lutgarde (d. 1246), a Cistercian nun of a Monastery in Belgium. She was blind the last 11 years of her life and is the patron saint of the blind.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The Abbey Church, constructed more than 70 years ago, is of Cistercian art and architecture, specifically designed to "discourage emotional, irrational reactions and to encourage a sense of composure", which is clean and stripped of unnecessary distractions thus creating a space for contemplative prayer and meditation.

While some may consider the design simplistic, I think it's beautiful and certainly inviting. I look forward to exploring the inside during a future visit, especially to see the stained-glass windows.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Just outside the entrance to the Abbey Church is a replica of a Madonna and Child statue at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. That school closed in 2016, but its buildings continue to serve as another educational institution. The statue here was a gift of Monsignor P.J. O'Connor (1902-1980). 

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Enjoy exploring the grounds. There are delightful surprises here and there. Not so many that your contemplative state is disrupted, but enough to spark a measure of joy.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I did not know about Monastery Lake. I saw a couple meandering along a path through a wooded area (to the right of the Abbey Church if looking at the front). I found an different path to explore and it quickly became evident that it was part of the Monastery complex, given away by the "Stations of the Cross" along the waterfront pathways.

I came across a flock of Canadian Geese bathing themselves one the edge of the lake and there are quite a few picnic tables and benches here, too—quite peaceful.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

I've saved my personal favorite space for last. And it was the last place I went when I visited. The entrance isn't marked, but I knew that it was there because I'd seen it on the directory at the entrance to the complex. 

The Magnolia Lane Meditative Walk is exactly that—meditative. 

I've loved Magnolia Trees all my life, so this was extra special to me. These tress are "ancient"...they're so tall! There were still some blooms when I visited in early July, a while after I thought they'd have finished—another special treat. There's a small gazebo along the Walk, dwarfed by the towering Magnolias. It was at the end of the Walk—one way in, one way out—where I got this photo where the trees seemingly engulf you and the sky. It was a gorgeous day.

Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Monastery of the Holy Spirit | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Check out their website for the fascinating history of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit. I had no idea, but the first Trappist monks came to Georgia in 1844, from Kentucky, to build a Monastery, when the area's Catholic population consisted of one family!

Now is a great time to visit the Monastery of the Holy Spirit and you can do so knowing that when you visit again, when they've re-opened to the public, you'll have another equally wonderful visit.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Goizueta Gardens: Veterans Park

"Each packet of soil represents a place, a time and a mission where the sons and daughters of this great country showed their commitment to the values we treasure," said Richard A. Lester, retired Army lieutenant colonel and keynote speaker at the re-dedication ceremony of Veterans Park at the Atlanta History Center on Memorial Day in 2013.

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

This magnificent three-quarter-acre park was placed precisely at the corner of West Paces Ferry Road NW and Slaton Drive NW, typically the first part of the Atlanta History Center's 33-acre complex that visitors glimpse. Mere steps from the main entrance, Veterans Park welcomes all to engage in personal reflection, and to "ignite profound connections with veterans and honor the lives of those who have made great sacrifices for our freedom.

This park is not only for those who made the greatest sacrifice, but for those protecting our freedoms today, right this very second, as well as for future generations.

The centerpiece of the park is an eight-foot diameter Seal of the United States carved from granite sourced from Elberton, Georgia, known as the "Granite Capital of the World!" Placed under this great Seal is a "Sacred Soil" collection, including soil from every major conflict where the United States has engaged, from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan. 

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The park is flanked by two tranquil, cascading water features in short, brick wall basins with multiple vertical splashes.

The packets of soil that Lester was referring to were scattered at the base of flags, gallantly swaying over Veterans Park, during the 2013 re-dedication ceremony by veterans and Gold Star family members. 

Today's annual tradition at Veterans Park is a ceremonious gathering on Veterans Day of veterans and civilians with the program focusing on a different conflict or major military anniversary. The ceremony includes a color guard presentation, playing of our national anthem, sometimes bagpipes, and always a guest keynote speaker.

It's a beautiful yet somber event, but wonderful in that we get to meet veterans and thank them personally for their service.

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Slightly smaller than the centerpiece Seal at six-feet in diameter, but just as magnificent, are five additional Seals of each of the branches of the United States armed forces: United States Air Force, United States Army, United States Coast Guard, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Navy.

I was a Radioman in the U.S. Navy, so that's the seal that I gravitate to on each visit to Veterans Park. I admire how this particular park recognizes so many of our armed forces men and women. Other monuments and memorials are amazing, but this one looks back, is in the now, and has eyes forward in gratitude to the service men and women protecting our freedoms.

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

There are panels, on brick pylons, throughout Veterans Park with quotes from interviews with veterans, part of the Atlanta History Center's Veterans History Project. An active program since 1999, it's "dedicated to collecting, preserving, and sharing veteran stories so that future generations can hear directly from those who served and better appreciate the realities of war and peacetime service."

Each panel has a QR Code, compatible with any smartphone, that links to videos in the Veterans History Project's collection of veterans sharing their stories.

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor


"For those who have fought for it, 
life has a flavor the protected shall never know."


Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The cast eagle in the park is a gift from Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker, who were also instrumental in supporting the move of the Battle of Atlanta cyclorama painting from Grant Park to the Atlanta History Center. The stone base was quarried in Olympia, Greece, and was a gift from the Deppie and Lou Zakas family and the UPS Foundation

The original Veterans Park, opened in 2000, was situated around a single Vietnam War marker. After 9/11, the greenspace was a locale where Atlantans planted countless tiny American flags grieving those lost in the terrorist attack. 

It took a few more years, but today's Veterans Park, possible through a generous donation of $500,000 by The Home Depot Foundation, is one that Atlanta can be proud of, especially that it honors all who have donned a U.S. Armed Forces uniform, as well as all those who currently do and will.

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

A plaque at the corner entrance to Veterans Park reads:

Veterans Park

Dedicated May 27, 2013, to honor all
those who have served and continue to
serve the United States of America.
protecting freedom around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well
or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any
burden, meet any hardship, support any friend,
oppose any foe to assure the survival and the
success of liberty.

President John F. Kennedy
January 20, 1961


Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

The fan-shaped park is a lovely greenspace with numerous benches where visitors can relax and reflect. The park is free and open to the public, too. 

If you want to visit the whole of the Atlanta History Center, just head to the main entrance beyond The Lloyd and Mary Ann Whitaker Cyclorama Building. If you're visiting at lunchtime, check out Souper Jenny, also at the front.

Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Veterans Park | Atlanta History Center | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

For such a small footprint, this modest park has an immense mission, one that I believe it's dong well. This former sailor is incredibly grateful to the Atlanta History Center for their Veterans History Project and for their wonderfully honorable Veterans Park.

The Other Gardens: This is the eighth 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.

Friday, August 7, 2020

Thomas Wilson Talbot - IAM Founder

On May 5, 1888, railroad machinist Thomas Wilson Talbot, with 18 others, after months of secret planning met in a locomotive pit and founded the Order of United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers of America, shortly after renamed the International Association of Machinists. It's one of the country's largest union organizations and one of the few founded in the South, now the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Today, it's headquartered in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Thomas Wilson Talbot | Grant Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Thomas Wilson Talbot | Grant Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the organization, in 1948, a bronze bust of Thomas Wilson Talbot was unveiled in Grant Park, Atlanta's oldest city park. The bust sits atop a pedestal of Tennessee marble. It's located in a plaza near the entrances of Zoo Atlanta and the Zoo's new Savanna Hall.

International Association of Machinists (IAM) Grand Lodge Convention delegates placed the monument and IAM President Harvey W. Brown of Washington delivered a dedication speech with a grandson and great grandson of Talbot's in attendance.

Fast-forward to 2013 when on the IAM's 125th anniversary a new plaque was dedicated for the monument’s base. IAM Local 709 in Marietta, Georgia, hosted the anniversary celebration. Their Vice President Mike Owens ensured the installation was performed with union labor.

The new plaque reads: "CELEBRATING 125 YEARS, Placed by the members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers to honor Thomas Wilson Talbot's enduring legacy, 125 years after he founded the Machinists Union in Atlanta Georgia on May 5, 1888. Dedicated June 2013." The plaque also bears the logo of the organization.

Thomas Wilson Talbot | Grant Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor
Thomas Wilson Talbot | Grant Park | Photo: Travis Swann Taylor

Talbot had moved back to his birth state of South Carolina where his life ended much in tragedy, much too young, in the spring of 1892 when two wealthy brothers from a prominent South Carolina family murdered him. He is buried in Florence, South Carolina, his grave marked by a towering obelisk bearing the logo of the International Association of Machinists.

The 1948 plaque on the Grant Park monument to Talbot reads: "Erected by the membership of the International Association of Machinists, May 5, 1948, to the memory of its founder Thomas Wilson Talbot, 1949-1892, through whose efforts came light out of darkness and hope out of despair. And that generations to come might extol his greatness, this monument is solemnly dedicated to free men everywhere who toil for a livelihood."

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.