Landscape architect Warren Henry Manning (1860–1938) was one of the most productive and influential American practitioners in the profession’s early years. Manning worked in the firm of Fredrick Law Olmsted and went on to practice independently in thirty-four states, recording more than 1,600 diverse projects in his fifty-year career. Manning’s commissions covered a wide range of landscape types, from small home lots, private estates, golf courses, parks and park systems, subdivisions, company towns, institutional grounds, and amusement parks, to regional plans and even a national plan. Hundreds of Manning’s designs still survive, with varying degrees of integrity.
Manning’s projects link the work of his mentors, Fredrick Law Olmsted and Charles Eliot, with that of his assistants, who included Fletcher Steele, Charles Gillette, and Dan Kiley. For the most part, Manning’s work has not yet been carefully studied. The destruction of most of Manning’s professional documents after his death in 1938 and the far-flung geographical range of his projects have made any sort of traditional research initiative next to impossible.
To this end, the Library of American Landscape History (LALH) has designed a collaborative research model to uncover Manning’s legacy. It employs the skills and resources of a large research network to recover information about Manning’s commissions and document their current state of preservation. Researchers come from a wide variety of backgrounds—chiefly landscape architecture, planning, architecture, and the history of those fields—and all have an intense interest in bringing Manning’s legacy to light. LALH will profile Manning’s
most significant projects in brief, illustrated essays in a forthcoming book.
Our research is well underway, and there are projects in your area with which we could use some help. We have assigned close to 600 of 1,668 projects from our Manning Client List to volunteer research associates. We have 90 completed surveys on file and a goal of 500 completed surveys by the end of 2007. Our on-line survey and a PDF of Manning's client list (organized geographically) are available on the research associate portion of our web-site. At http://www.lalh.org you can find Manning’s client list and our survey form by following this path:
Manning Project -> Manning Research Associates -> and then click the "survey form" link for a PDF version of the survey for use in the field, or the “client list” link for a copy of Manning’s client list organized geographically.
LALH is soliciting help from qualified local volunteers all over the country to complete these surveys. The projects include every conceivable landscape type, among them: small home lots, private estates, golf courses, parks, subdivisions, company towns, and regional plans.
Research volunteers will be credited in the database for their site research and in citations of that research used by authors in the book, as well as for research assistance in both volumes of the book. Researchers who complete surveys for the Manning project will also receive a copy of the book to be published in 2010.
Reid Bertone-Johnson, ASLA is Coordinator of the Warren H. Manning Research Project for the Library of American Landscape History. For more information or to volunteer for this project please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 549-4860.