The Georgia Historic Landscape Initiative (GHLI)


History:  Initiated in 2002 under the direction of Landscape Architect James R. Cothran, FASLA and Susan Hitchcock, National Park Service, a collaboration was forged among the Historic Preservation Division, the Garden Club of Georgia, the National Park Service, and the Cherokee Garden Library, Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center, for the purpose of conducting a statewide inventory of Georgia’s historic gardens—the Historic Landscape Initiative. Using the volume Garden History of Georgia, 1733- 1933 (Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Garden Club, 1933) as a framework, garden club members and Cherokee Garden Library fellows determined which of the book’s significant gardens remained, which had been destroyed, and what changes had occurred to those still in existence. This effort was completed in 2018 and resulted in the University of Georgia Press book, Seeking Eden: A Collection of Georgia Historic Gardens (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2018) by Staci L. Catron and Mary Ann Eaddy with photographs by James R. Lockhart.

Current:  Upon completion of revisiting all the designed gardens documented in the 1930s throughout Georgia, in 2018 the GHLI began Phase Two of its landscape documentation program focusing on vernacular landscapes. The same year, the University of Georgia, College of Environment + Design, Historic Preservation Program officially joined the collaboration, albeit UGA had been assisting for a few years prior. Although vernacular landscapes and gardens have been recognized as historic resources since the late-1980s, because designed landscapes are in many ways easier to research and understand, they were logically the focus of many landscape documentation programs for several decades. Yet, rural communities, industrial complexes, sites of Indigenous peoples of the Americas, and a variety of agricultural, forestry, mining, and other extractive land uses also assist in telling the rich story of how our country developed.

The Cherokee Garden Library is the repository for the surveys and materials collected through the Georgia Historic Landscape Initiative.

For more information regarding the GHLI, please contact Garden Library Director, Staci Catron, at 404.814.4046 or