Frank Albert Waugh

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Frank A. Waugh in 1926

Frank Albert Waugh (July 8, 1869 – March 20, 1943) was an American landscape architect whose career focused upon recreational uses of national forests, the production of a highly natural style of landscape design, and the implementation of ecology as basis for choices in landscape design. He essentially pioneered the role of the landscape architect as an integral part of national forest design and development through such projects as the Mount Hood Scenic Byway and Bryce Canyon National Park scenic roadway. His ideas spread via his diverse writings including Recreation Uses in the National Forests and The Natural Style in Landscape Gardening. He also wrote prolifically about education, agriculture, and social issues in such works as The Agricultural College and Rural Improvement.

Biography[edit]

Frank A. Waugh was born in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, but his studies and career would take him far from his birthplace. Waugh earned his B.S. degree in 1891 from Kansas State College and a subsequent M.S. from Oklahoma State Agricultural and Mechanical College in 1893. In 1895, graduate studies in landscape and horticulture would take him to Cornell University, Europe, and finally to the University of Vermont. He found his way to the Massachusetts Agricultural College, now the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he became the head of the agriculture division and founded an undergraduate “landscape gardening” program in 1903. He was one of the first practitioners to formally recognize American landscape architecture history. The undergraduate program of “landscape gardening” at the University of Massachusetts Amherst was the second program of its kind in the nation and helped in pioneering what landscape architecture is today.

Accomplishments[edit]

Waugh’s Book of Landscape Gardening has become a classic in its field. Waugh begins each edition of his text with “Landscape gardening is eminently a fine art.” He covers general principles of design and discusses three basic style; the natural, the architectural and the picturesque. The book achieves “a balance between well-known period examples and solution” which was achievable by all who attempt them. The photographs included in the book were taken by Waugh and are landscapes ranging from Europe and Japan, to unique regions in the United States. In his text, Waugh also includes several plant lists of the regional foliage. Waugh was an avid writer of magazines and books with writings on technical horticulture called systematic pomology(1903), landscape architecture, Formal Design In Landscape Architecture (1927), education, The Agricultural College ( 1916), gardening, Everybody’s Garden (1937), and society, rural improvement (1914).

In 1917, Frank Waugh was hired by the U.S. Forest Service as a consultant for the recreational development of national forests. Over a period of five months, he visited forests across the country and evaluated their facilities, both private and public, including camp and picnic grounds, summer resorts, and other aspects of forest recreation. Most importantly, he compared the value of forest recreation to that of the urban realm, estimating that forest recreation was worth $7.5 million annually, roughly equal to urban recreation. He published his findings in Recreation Uses in the National Forests which was the first comprehensive study of national forest recreational use.

Another major project that Waugh embarked upon was the design of the little town that bordered one of the natural wonders of the world, and one of our national monuments, the Grand Canyon, Arizona. The town consisted of 300 to 400 people and a tourist population of about 200. In the design, Waugh realized that the purpose of this town was to provide for the tourists who come to see this great wonder. He believed that yellow pines should be saved and that the pinon and cedar that were planted along streets should be removed. By creating a scattered canopy by taking away the formality in the trees, Waugh believed it would unify the natural and undomesticated surroundings with the overall presentation of the town.

Influence[edit]

The social movements of the time had a significant effect on the life and career of Frank Waugh. During the Civil War era, the concept of preserving natural monuments became prominent. This movement began with a grant from Congress on June 30, 1864 for the preservation of Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Grove of Big Trees. Primarily chosen for their natural scenic qualities, these new national parks served as the first precedents for the early twentieth century trend in reserving scenic wild lands for public use, of which Frank Waugh was an influential figure.

In 1917, Waugh published The Natural Style in Landscape Gardening which was based on the imitation of natural forms and the use of native vegetation in landscaping. His advocation for this style can be traced back to Andrew Jackson Downing, of whom Waugh was heavily influenced. Downing held native plants in high regard and expressed their potential to recreate the scenery of the wilderness, thus contributing to an appreciation of America’s native plants. Further influence was drawn from Frederick Law Olmsted, a contemporary of Downing, whose use of native species in mass plantings at Biltmore, the Vanderbilt estate near Asheville, North Carolina, began a trend in 1890 characterized by the use native plants over exotics among landscape designers. Downing’s designs were also based on the principle of vistas. Waugh’s scenic byway designs for Bryce Canyon and Mount Hood represent this principle. These byways feature “paragraphic” vistas which appear sequentially at turns along the road accompanied by turn-offs for stopping and taking in the view.

Waugh’s designs also incorporated the concept of ecology through the use of plantings characterized by natural association of plant species in conjunction with environmental conditions. Having studied in Germany, Waugh was influenced by such Germans as Willy Lange, whom Waugh credited with the best explanation of ecological principles. Additionally, the curator and planting foreman of Berlin’s botanical garden, Dr. A. Engler and Dr. K. Peters, used mass plantings in response to soil and drainage. Waugh’s designs were driven by these developments in vegetation use, which he believed were essential to the character of his natural style. It is no wonder that he developed a taste for native vegetation and natural scenery, considering that these elements coincided with the concept of a place’s ecological scheme and overall spirit. another conceptual requirement for Waugh’s naturalistic style of gardening was the open lawn. He believed that they were the natural foundation for a natural landscape. With English influences such as the large estate garden at Stowe in England, the wide open lawn reigned supreme, implying the values of naturalistic landscaping through little manipulation of planting arrangements and circulation patterns. The influence of the emphasis on the lawn can be seen throughout America, and although it may have lost most of the naturalistic symbolism behind it, the great American lawn shines through to today.

Although Frank Waugh was known as a naturalistic designer, his book Formal Design in Landscape Architecture exemplifies his thorough knowledge and understanding of the formal style of garden design. He believes there are settings which require the strict guidelines of the formal garden design, and that certain sites call for the loose, naturalistic design concepts. Formal design, in he eyes of Frank Waugh, is when all the parts of the garden are symmetrically balanced. This is not to say that informal gardening is not balanced, but it lacks the formality of bilateral symmetry and radial symmetry that the formal garden design strictly abides by.

Significance[edit]

Ultimately, Waugh was a pioneer in landscape architecture in that he recognized the role of landscape architects as integral in the development of national forests and parklands and their roads, trails, campgrounds, and picnic spots. This was especially influential in terms of the national forests whose uses prior to 1917 were primarily characterized by timber production and livestock grazing. Along with his contemporary, Henry Hubbard, Waugh fostered the creation of a landscape design style that was uniquely American. His writings of an ecological approach to design were unique as well and rather unprecedented in terms of American literature. Furthermore, his extensive study and publications of mass plantings laid a philosophical and practical foundation for naturalized landscape design, as might be expressed today through re-vegetation practices.

Waugh retired from teaching in 1939, just four years before his death. In addition to his endeavors in national forest design, he also designed college campuses, including Kansas State and Oklahoma State. He also made detailed etchings of nature scenes and played the flute daily. He and his wife, Alice, had six children. Many achieved great successes, including such accomplishments as designing public sculptures in Washington D.C. and inventing the federal food stamp program. Although he was a man of small physical stature, being just over five feet tall, his charisma was widely felt and influenced his family, colleagues, and students alike. His achievements and influence were very much driven by his overall impression of place. His designs and writings constantly harkened back to this concept and consequently urged the landscape architect to, “first and foremost, endeavor to understand the spirit of his landscapes.” (from Waugh’s The Natural Style in Landscape Gardening)

Timeline[edit]

July 8, 1869 – Born in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin

1891 – Receives B.S. from Kansas State College

1893 – Accepts position at the State Agricultural College of the University of Vermont as Professor of Horticulture

1895 - Moved to New England from his native Midwest

1903 - Waugh founds an undergraduate program in “landscape gardening” at Massachusetts Agricultural College, only the second program in the nation

1917 - U.S. Forest Service hires Frank Waugh to work on the first comprehensive national study of recreation uses; he spends five months in the field during 1917 working on his National Forest Study

1918 - Developed A Plan for Grand Canyon Village

1918-1919 - Waugh served as a Captain in the U.S. Army

1920 - Designed Oregon’s famous Mount Hood drive

1922 - U.S. Forest Service hires Frank Waugh as a collaborator again; he spends the summer formulating plans for the development of public camp grounds and summer-home sites in the National Forests of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Idaho and other western states

1923 - Students could obtain a bachelor’s, master’s or two-year technical degree from his program

1926 – Ends consultation for U.S. Forest Service

1934 - Reported to the American Society of Landscape Architects that in the previous 17 years, the department of landscape gardening had 217 graduates, with 20 of them women

1939 - Retired from teaching

March 20, 1943 – Frank Waugh dies, age 73

Publications[edit]

Book of Landscape Gardening (1899, 1926)

Systematic Pomology (1903)

The Landscape Beautiful (1910)

The American Peach Orchard (1913)

Country Roads and Their Benefits (1914)

Rural Improvements (1914)

All Kinds of Roads (1915)

How Wide is a Road? (1915)

The Agricultural College (1916)

Fruit Trees in Public Roadways (1916)

The Natural Style in Landscape Gardening (1917)

Outdoor Theatres (1917)

Recreation Uses in the National Forests (1917)

Engineering in the National Forests (1918)

A Plan for the Development of the Village of Grand Canyon, Ariz. (1918)

Public Roads, Our Great National Park (1920)

Country Planning (1924)

Formal Design in Landscape Architecture (1927)

Everybody's Garden (1937)

References[edit]

Image Links[edit]

(Profile Image)

(Playing Flute)

A Look at the Etchings of Frank A. Waugh || Annaliese Bischoff - Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning - University of Massachusetts, Amherst at people.umass.edu (Etchings)

Works cited[edit]