Archives of American Gardens
Perry H. Wheeler collection, 1880-1984
- Collection ID:
Wheeler, Perry H., 1914-1989Stengle, James M., Dr.University of GeorgiaGarden Club of AmericaEmory UniversityAmerican Society of Landscape Architects
- Physical Description:
25.75 Cubic feet3,958 Photographs
The Perry H. Wheeler Collection includes the design, client and business records of Perry H. Wheeler, a landscape architect best known for his work on numerous townhouse gardens in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., during the 1960s as well as the redesign of the White House Rose Garden in collaboration with Rachel Lambert ('Bunny') Mellon during the Kennedy administration.
Scope and Contents note
Scope and Contents note
The Perry H. Wheeler Collection includes the design, client and business records of Perry H. Wheeler, a landscape architect best known for his work on numerous townhouse gardens in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. during the 1960s as well as the redesign of the White House Rose Garen in collaboration with Rachel ('Bunny') Lambert Mellon during the Kennedy adminstration. The collection includes photographic images, plans, drawings, client correspondence, plant lists, invoices, newspaper and magazine clippings, certificates, awards, and invitations. The bulk of the collection and most of the professional papers date from about 1950 to 1965 and relate to various garden design projects by Wheeler, many of them located in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Of particular note are documents for Wheeler's public design work including the White House grounds, Washington National Cathedral, U. S. National Arboretum, President John F. Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery, and the British and Cambodian Embassies in Washington, D.C. Noteworthy correspondents include President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy, Ladybird Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, and Margaret Truman.
There are also over 3,000 35mm slides dating from the 1950s and 1960s that document Wheeler's personal travels to Europe, Africa, South America, the Caribbean, Canada, and the American West.
Perry Hunt Wheeler (1913-1989), a Georgia native, began his higher education at Emory University, going on to graduate from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1937. Immediately afterward Wheeler enrolled in Harvard University from which he earned a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture in 1938. After graduation, Wheeler collaborated on garden projects in Atlanta, Georgia with fellow landscape architect Helen Hawkins Clarke. During World War II, Wheeler moved to Washington, D.C. to serve under the Office of Civilian Defense and the Office of Strategic Services Camouflage Division. Following the war, Wheeler worked at Garden House a Georgetown shop where he advised homeowners on tasteful garden design, accessories, and furnishings. By 1948 Wheeler had established a landscape architecture practice in Washington, D.C. His practice grew via word of mouth through Washington's social circles and through a shared office with landscape architect Rose Ishbel Greely, and later with architect Gertrude Sawyer.
In 1947, he formed a 'bachelor household' in Georgetown with James Snitzler. Later, at the invitation of Rachel Lambert "Bunny" Mellon, he and Snitzler created a second home outside of Washington called "Spring Hill" on property owned by Mellon. Shortly after Snitzler's death in 1968, Wheeler moved permanently to Middleburg, Virginia and continued to travel, lecture, and consult with clients. Wheeler semi-retired in 1981 to 'Budfield,' a property in Rectortown, Virginia where he passed away in 1989, leaving his estate to his partner, James M. Stengle.
Wheeler is best known for his work on private gardens in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. He frequently employed the use of intricate brickwork, low-maintenance planting, and simple water features in creating his charming and functional designs. His most noteworthy commissions outside the private realm include collaboration with Bunny Mellon on the White House Rose Garden, designing a Garden Club of America-commissioned gazebo and its surroundings for the U.S. National Arboretum, and plantings for the National Cathedral and President John F. Kennedy's gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery.
Immediate Source of Acquisition note
Gift from the estate of James M. Stengle, 1993.
Custodial History note
Immediately prior to their being donated to the Smithsonian, the holdings making up the Perry H. Wheeler Collection were in the possession of Millicent West, a member of the Garden Club of America and his partner James Stengle.
Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access note
Access to original archival materials by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: email@example.com.
Conditions Governing Use note
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preferred Citation note
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Perry H. Wheeler collection.
Archives of American Gardens
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