Cherokee Garden Library Director Staci L. Catron has been awarded the Garden Club of America 2023 Medal for Historic Preservation. The Historic Preservation Medal is given for outstanding work in the field of preservation and/or restoration of historic gardens or buildings of national importance. Staci is being recognized for her significant contributions as a garden preservationist and scholar. As a long-time friend and supporter of the Cherokee Garden Library, I commend our director for her dedication and congratulate her for the recognition she so richly deserves.
Proposed for the honor by the Cherokee Garden Club, which founded CGL in 1975, Staci has had a long and productive relationship with GCA. She has consulted with the organization on its own library holdings, served as a guest lecturer during the GCA exhibition, Gardening by the Book, at the Grolier Club in New York, and archived The Bulletin of the Garden Club of America dating to 1913 at CGL. Staci was invited to become an Honorary Member of the organization in 2014.
The strategic acquisitions policy she led vastly expanded the resource and research material on American gardens for scholars nationwide, and indeed for those in countries beyond our borders. In the process, Staci became fluent in each of the formats held within CGL collections–rare and contemporary books, historic periodicals, seed catalogs, manuscript collections, and visual arts collections––guiding researchers to interpret relevant resources pertinent to their work. She is also fluent in the language of library and archival conservation, which is vital to keeping the most fragile and valuable holdings at CGL in conditions that allow researchers hands-on access to them.
Many will recall the exciting exhibitions curated or co-curated by our director over the years, including Pathways to the Past: Highlights from the Cherokee Garden Library, Edward L. Daugherty, A Southern Landscape Architect, and most recently, Seeking Eden. Catron also curated local components to traveling exhibitions, including Following in the Bartrams’ Footsteps and Nature’s Beloved Son: Rediscovering John Muir’s Botanical Legacy. Each brought new and thoughtful insights to the public.
Seeking Eden: A Collection of Georgia’s Historic Gardens, the award-winning book co-authored by Staci L. Catron and Mary Ann Eaddy, built upon the Georgia Historic Landscape Initiative, a collaboration among the Garden Club of Georgia, CGL of Atlanta History Center, Historic Preservation Division of the Department of Natural Resource (now Department of Community Affairs), Southeast Regional Office of the National Park Service, and the University of Georgia College of Environment + Design, Historic Preservation Program. Staci’s leadership in this multi-decade endeavor has significantly impacted the documentation of gardens, from the vernacular to the highly designed, in Georgia. The project serves as a model for other regions of the United States.
Staci does not relish the limelight, but rather develops collaborative relationships, serving in leadership roles when called. Those relationships include:
- Renowned historians and authors, landscape architects, and private donors who choose CGL to house their invaluable works, thanks to their confidence in Staci’s leadership.
- Acclaimed speakers who present programs to inspire the public.
- Atlanta History Center’s Goizueta Gardens staff who collaborate to share the multiple living collections within the gardens to delight and educate the public.
- Professional affiliations and partnerships, including the Southern Garden History Society, The Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries, The Garden Conservancy, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, and The Library of American Landscape History.
- Enthusiasts who are interested in learning from CGL’s bi-annual magazine, Garden Citings, orchestrated by Staci, which elegantly presents new research based upon the holdings of CGL.
Finally, Staci Catron’s love of her field and passion for telling the stories she works tirelessly to tell have led many over the years to say, “Who knew a library could be so exciting?”