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Edith Harrison Henderson

Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA
Death 12 Oct 2005 (aged 94)
Brookwood Hills, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Burial Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA
Memorial ID 111819736 · View Source
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EDITH HARRISON HENDERSON June 9, 1911-October 12, 2005 Edith Harrison Henderson of Atlanta, Georgia, was one of the great American gardeners of the 20th Century. Celebrated as the dean of Landscape Architecture in the South, Mrs. Henderson was licensed to practice in six states and had reciprocity in others, and, as she said, "I have enjoyed practicing in all the major fields of my profession over a great part of the United States." Her masterly sense of balance, proportion and space is the signature of her work. Mrs. Henderson's real love was always design and her taste was classical and governed by a gift for the simple elegance. During her career, Edith Henderson worked for more than 10,000 clients across the region and beyond. The range of her assignments was unprecedented for a woman. In 1939, Edith was selected as Landscape Architect to develop and pioneer the design plan for the Clark Howell and Techwood Homes in Atlanta. A year earlier, working with Peachtree Garden Club, she had redesigned Peachtree Street in Atlanta's Buckhead. In later years, she was hired as consultant on landscaping for MARTA. Mrs. Henderson would laugh about the public response to her selection for the "big" jobs. "The Clark Howell Homes assignment was 'unthinkable' for a woman in those days," she'd say. "Most people thought that only men were landscape architects. Prospective clients didn't think a woman could do the work." Edith was not captivated by the opulence of the estate that she was working on or the sheer dimension of the assignment she had won. She could become excited by a little bungalow with a postage stamp yard. She had a passion for creating beauty and meeting this challenge was her gratification. Whatever the canvas, Edith Henderson was an artist, and her relationship with plants was near spiritual. She would take a stem of iris with loosening buds, put it in water and settle down beside it in the late twilight. "The outer petals make a rustling sound as they carefully loosen and curve down," she said. "Then, the tall inner petals would straighten up, barely touching each other while giving a little sigh. She was swift and sure and had very little interest in unnecessarily extending the time with the client. "I soon realized," she said, "wherever and whatever the project, my consultation with the client did not have to be long, complicated affair involving a formal report. Two hours on the site was generally all that was necessary. This was a boon for the client and generally dismaying for the competing landscape architect. But, Mrs. Henderson did not leave the customer stranded. She made detailed hand drawn sketches and notes as she surveyed the property. "At the end," she said, "I turned them over to my client, thereby providing a basic design plan which I found out later was passed down from homeowner to homeowner." Edith Henderson was born on June 9, 1911, in Charlotte, and moved to Atlanta in 1925 when her father was transferred by AT &T. She was a graduate of the North Avenue Presbyterian School, Simmons College and in 1934 she graduated from the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture in Boston. This was the first school in America to train women in landscape architecture. It was a worthwhile experiment. Mrs. Henderson was a stellar graduate, a pioneer and a star in every area of her profession. In 1936, Edith was appointed Director of the Rich's Department Store Garden Center. She left in 1938 to devote full time to her practice and in 1940, she began writing a weekly column for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution. In 1958, she helped her home state develop "The Board of Landscape Architects" in Georgia and became one of the state's first registered Landscape Architects. A highly visible leader in state and local circles, Mrs. Henderson was elected "Woman of the Year" for Atlanta Professionals in 1964 and was given the award by her beloved friend Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. In 1968, she was installed as a "Fellow", the highest honor of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She later became Chair of the Board of Fellows. Among the many awards that Edith Henderson won during her singular career was the prestigious Oakleigh Thorne Medal for "Excellence in Landscape Architecture", presented to her in 1971 by the Garden Club of America. In 1976, Edith Henderson became the first woman in the history of the American Society of Landscape Architects to be elected an officer of that august group. She had flung wide the gates for women in her profession. Awarded an Honorary Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1991, Edith Henderson retired and set about gratifying her ultimate desire. She wrote her book as a testament to the beauty of all growing things and the magic of design. Published in 1993 by Peachtree Publishers, LTD., EDITH HENDERSON'S HOME LANDSCAPE COMPANION tells the secrets of a lifelong love affair with nature and design. Edith Harrison Henderson died on October 12, 2005 in Atlanta, Georgia, of Alzheimer's disease. She is survived by her husband, James Ross Henderson; two sons, Ross Henderson of Atlanta and Edward Henderson of Waterbury, CT; two grandsons, Andrew Henderson of Atlanta and Grayson Henderson of Waterbury, CT; two daughters-in-law, Dr. Dana Henderson of Atlanta and Mary Henderson of Waterbury, CT; and three step grandchildren, Erica, Joel, and Leandra Zorn of Waterbury, CT. A memorial service will be held Friday, October 14th at 3 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta. Rev. Patricia Senterfitt and Dr. George Wirth will officiate. A reception will be held at the church following the service. Contributions in Edith Henderson's name can be made to The First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta

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Gravesite Details She was cremated




  • Created by: family history keeper
  • Added: 5 Jun 2013
  • Find A Grave Memorial 111819736
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Edith Harrison Henderson (9 Jun 1911–12 Oct 2005), Find A Grave Memorial no. 111819736, citing First Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden, Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by family history keeper (contributor 46486071) .