Scope and Contents Note
The Mary Riley Smith Records document the decades-long career of Manhattan-based garden designer, writer, and lecturer Mary Riley Smith. It includes drawings, plans, planting lists, notes, correspondence, invoices, estimates, 35 mm slides, negatives, photographs, digital files on CDs, and other materials relating to many of Smith's garden design projects, dating from 1986-2013. The bulk of Smith's projects were private, residential gardens of all sizes in urban, suburban, and rural areas in Manhattan, Long Island, and Connecticut. One such project included in the collection is Smith's own garden that she designed for her home on Long Island, New York. Other projects Smith worked on include gardens for apartment buildings, libraries, colleges, religious institutions, and social clubs. Her public commissions include the Battery Park entrance gardens, Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, Rockefeller Center, and Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, all in Manhattan. A significant portion of the materials are textual in nature; the remainder are drawings and plans, many of which are oversized.
The client files document design decisions made between Smith and her clients. The collection records the collaborative work between Smith, landscape architects, contractors, and other individuals who helped build the gardens. These materials detail the process of planning the garden, outlining the work to be done, establishing a budget, providing estimates, and setting a schedule to complete the work. While the bulk of the materials relate to Smith's design projects, the collection also contains materials from her professional practice. These include clipping files, 35mm slides, photographs, drawings, plans, and notes from lectures and presentations given by Smith. Also included are two copies of Smith's book that was published in 1991, The Front Garden: New Approaches to Landscape Design.