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Pioneer Landscape Architect Clermont Lee’s Drawings Now Publicly Available Online

Savannah, GA, June 1, 2022 – Drawings by pioneering landscape architect Clermont Lee are now publicly available online thanks to a collaboration between the Georgia Historical Society and the Digital Library of Georgia.

Lee, one of the first female landscape architects in Georgia, is perhaps best known for her work to design and promote historically-inspired landscape plans for public spaces, historic sites and structures, and private residences during the mid-to-late twentieth century. Inspired by urban garden plans of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Lee’s designs include many gardens and parks for historical landmarks in Savannah, including the Owens-Thomas House and the Green-Meldrim House, as well as plans for several of the Landmark District’s beloved squares. Across the state, Lee’s designs include plans for the Chief Vann House in Murray County and Baptist Village in Waycross.

“Clermont Lee was a pioneering figure in the history of landscape architecture,” says Nate Pedersen, Manager of the Archival and Reference Team at the Georgia Historical Society. “We expect her drawings to be of significant interest to historic preservationists, landscape architects, gardeners, and scholars around the country. As such, we are delighted to be able to freely share her drawings online and are grateful for the support from the Digital Library of Georgia.”

From 1940 through the mid-1980s, she made landscape designs for clients in Savannah, across the state of Georgia, and throughout the Southeast.

As one of the first professional female landscape architects in Georgia, Lee worked with and independently of some of her era’s leading preservationists. She focused on preserving, recreating, and reinterpreting historic gardens and landscapes. This was an aspect of the preservation movement that she felt had been ignored in many plans that focused on historic structures.

Lee represents a less recognized part of the preservation movement’s story as both a professional woman working in the field and as a preservationist focused on the natural environment. Historic preservation, particularly during the mid-twentieth century, was associated primarily with professional male architects and developers. Women (usually wealthy white women) often worked as volunteers and activists.

In addition to her work in Savannah, she designed projects throughout Georgia and in cities such as Jacksonville, Florida, and Hilton Head, South Carolina. Lee also worked on the founding of the Georgia State Landscape Architects Board.

Clermont Lee passed away in 2006 at age 92 on Hilton Head Island. She is buried in Savannah’s Bonaventure Cemetery.

For more information on the Clermont Lee collection or the Georgia Historical Society, contact Keith Strigaro, Director of Communications, at (912) 651-2125, ext. 153 or by email at kstrigaro@georgiahistory.com.

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Georgia Historical Society (GHS) is the premier independent statewide institution responsible for collecting, examining, and teaching Georgia history. GHS houses the oldest and most distinguished collection of materials related exclusively to Georgia history in the nation.
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