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JUNE 5, 2014, 6-7:30 PM

BOOK SIGNING AND RECEPTION: The Windows of Buck House, with Deborah Buck. Norwood Club, 241 West 14th Street, sponsored by Pratt Institute. RSVP to

MAY 17, 2014, 1 PM

EVENT: Groundbreakers: Great American Gardens & The Women Who Designed Them, at the New York Botanical Garden, this Garden-wide exhibition celebrates early 20th-century America's most influential women in landscape architecture and design as well as garden photography and writing. 

Opening Weekend Lecture: Picturing a Beautiful America, with Curator Sam Watters. 1 PM.


MAY 6, 2014, 6-8 PM

Launch party for Deborah Buck's The Windows of Buck House, Fabulous Fictional Females. At the Madeline Weinrib Showroom, 126 Fifth Avenue, at 18th Street, 2nd floor.

MARCH 30, 2014, 2 PM

EVENT: Lecture and Book Signing with Ulysses Grant Dietz

Upgrade: Chester Arthur, Louis Tiffany and the White House
Driehaus Museum 
40 East Erie St.
Chicago IL
312 482 8933

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REVIEW:  Gardens for a Beautiful America: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston
Eve Kahn, Traditional Building

The photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952) sometimes heard herself compared to "an ant with a huge last year's grasshopper," while lugging large-format cameras and a typewriter around the country. For 60 years, she documented properties designed by architects and landscape architects as prominent as McKim, Mead & White, Horace Trumbauer, the Olmsteds and Beatrix Jones Farrand. read the full review


REVIEW: GARDENS FOR A BEAUTIFUL AMERICA: Photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnston
Judith Tankard, HORTUS

This is an unusually sumptuous book that is a welcome addition to a small shelf devoted to serious, well-illustrated books about garden history. It's basically a scholarly study, but in the guise of a luscious coffee-table book; aficionados of early twentieth-century American gardens couldn't do better. The title, Gardens for a Beautiful America, is a tongue-in-cheek spin on Beautiful Gardens in America by Louise Shelton, first published in 1915 with state-of-the-art black-and-white photographs. read the full article

DREAM HOUSE: The White House as an American Home
Lita Solis-Cohen, Maine Antique Digest

Published three years ago, Dream House: The White House as an American Home seems relevant during this election year. The authors are well suited for their task. Ulysses Grant Dietz is senior curator at the Newark (New Jersey) Museum of Art, where he has worked since receiving his MA from the University of Delaware's Winterthur program in 1980. He is the great-great-grandson of President Ulysses S. Grant, and his grandfather oversaw the rebuilding of the White House's third floor for the Coolidges and was a founder of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.Dietz teamed up with his Yale undergraduate roommate, Sam Watters, a historian of the built environment whose new book, Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 (2012), publishes turn-of-the-last-century garden photographs by official White House photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston. (Pay special attention to the period photographs and their captions in Dream House; they are a revelation.) read the full article


ARTICLE: Defining Glamour: Syrie Maugham and Cecil Beaton
By Pauline Metcalf. Magazine Antiques, September 2012

The complementary relationship between Syrie Maugham and Cecil Beaton provides a remarkable record of the interplay between fashion, photography, and design in the years between the first and the second World Wars. In The Glass of Fashion  (1954), Beaton's kaleidoscopic book of musings about interconnected arts, he wrote" "when we talk about fashion or the minor arts"- in this contect substitute interior design -" we really talk about the whole art of living... read the full article 




INTERVIEW: American Splendor
Author Q&A with Michael Kathrens on Designers and Books

Architectural and interior design historian Michael C. Kathrens discusses the newly revised edition of his book American Splendor: the Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (December 2011, originally published in 2002) which brings the work of one of the most influential residential architects of the Country House era --from the late 19th century to 1930--to a new audience.

Designers & Books : What originally led you to do a book on Trumbauer ”and why the new edition?

Michael Kathrens: I had been collecting the information on Trumbauer for many years, because I felt he was one of the best classical revival architects this country had produced. None of his peers ever executed houses of such elegance and refinement. Read the full interview

INTERVIEW: Gardens for a Beautiful America
Author Q&A with Sam Watters on Designers and Books

Designers & Books: Frances Benjamin Johnston was in demand as a lecturer on the movement to beautify America through garden design and horticulture, and her work was enthusiastically praised by Frederick Law Olmsted. How did someone once so acclaimed someone who was described as a force of nature — ”become forgotten? And how did you come to be interested in her?

Sam Watters: Fame comes and goes with taste, but Johnston will always have a place in history of photography as an early portraitist, architectural photographer, and photo journalist. I became interested in Johnston through her portraits of Teddy Roosevelt's children with her pets. Read the full interview

EVENT: Lecture and book signing: Gardens for a Beautiful America

Sam Watters
Wednesday, September 19
7 pm
Bing Theater
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles, CA

EVENT: Lecture and book signing: American Splendor: 
The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer

Michael Kathrens
Monday, September 24
5 pm
The Union League of Philadelphia
140 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA

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EVENT: Lecture and book signing: American Splendor: 
The Residential Architecture of Horace Trumbauer

Michael Kathrens
Thursday, September 27
6:30 pm cocktails, 7 pm lecture
The Institute of Classical Architecture and Art
20 W 44 Street
New York, NY

REVIEW:  Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 

Erika Esau. World of Antiques & Art

"Watters examined and, amazingly, identified the gardens in over 1,000 lantern-slide images, most of them unlabelled and of gardens long gone or altered beyond recognition. He has presented the context in which the images were created with depth and with attention to detail that would have been unattainable for other scholars not so well-grounded in the world of gardens, architecture, and the history of American social privilege. For those interested in views and landscape photography, he has also ventured into a field that has been virtually ignored in photographic history: images of gardens, famous and otherwise and what these images can tell us about American life, class, and aesthetic values in an era of enormous social change." Read the full review

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LECTURE:  Picturing the New American Garden, a lecture with Sam Watters 06/09/12
Now available on Vimeo


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Lecture and book signing: Picturing the American Garden

Sam Watters
Wednesday, August 22
11:00 am
548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI

In this illustrated lecture, Sam Watters presents the story of celebrity photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston (1864-1952), who pioneered garden photography at the turn of the 20th century. 

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JULY 2012

EVENT: In Conversation with SAM WATTERS
on Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935

Friday, July 27
12:00 noon to 1:00 pm
Overseers Room, The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Join Bill Deverell and Sam Watters as they discuss Johnston'™s photography in the context of her era's social and aesthetic agendas, the subject of Watters recent book, Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 published in collaboration with the Library of Congress that holds the Johnston architectural archive.

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REVIEW: Gardens for a Beautiful America, 1895-1935 
Jane Garmey.

" Rarely does a book appear that feels like a revelation. The Acanthus Press' recent Gardens for a Beautiful America, by Sam Watters, is just such book, however... Today, anyone interested in the history of gardens owes Mr. Watters a huge debt of gratitude as he painstakingly identified the slides and presents 250 of them in this ravishing book, giving us miniature portraits of gardens in both America and Europe."   Read the full review

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INTERVIEW: A Look at New York's Gardening History.
Alejandro Saralegui chats with Sam Watters. New York Cottages & Gardens

NYC&G:   How did you learn about the collection?

By accident. I was looking up something on Johnston and came across a footnote saying that the Library of Congress had 600 of her glass lantern slides. I asked to see the collection, and they showed me about 20. The Library of Congress was a model of what a federal institution can be: They scanned every slide for this project, and more than 1,100 images are now online they had no idea how many were actually in the archives. It was a fluke. Read the full interview

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REVIEW: A Pioneer of Photography.
Barbara and Ken Beem. New England Antiques Journal

From the very first glimpse, the pictures are spellbinding. The subjects are stunning: Handsome buildings flanked by gorgeous flowers and trees. The composition of each view is balanced. The colors are ethereal, with a palette mirroring that of the dreamiest Impressionist artist, inviting the observer to enter a fairytale world of wealth and beauty. The overall artistic quality of the pictures blurs the line between photography and art, and there is a timelesness that cannot be denied. This is the world of beautiful America, a place captured by Frances Benjamin Johnston and frozen in time."  Read the full review
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JUNE 2012

Picturing the New American Garden. A Lecture with Sam Watters

Tuesday, June 19
6 - 8 pm
Walt Disney Family Museum in the Presidio of San Francisco

The ICAA is pleased to co-present with the Garden Conservancy: "Picturing the New American Garden," a lecture with Sam Watters.

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