Marjorie Sewell Cautley, Landscape Architect for the Motor Age
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Over the course of four decades, Marjorie Cautley (1891-1954) became the first woman landscape architect to design state parks, plan the landscape for a public housing project, and teach in a university planning department. Sarah Allaback's absorbing biography illuminates how Cautley transcended both cultural and professional boundaries during one of the most tumultuous eras in American history--the advent of the automobile--to create places for people to lead healthy, vital lives.The eldest of three daughters in a peripatetic naval family, Cautley experienced an unusually unfettered life as a child. A year living in Guam (her father became Governor of Guam) left her with lifelong memories of great natural beauty and respect for the forces of nature. After the death of her mother when she was ten and of her father two years later, she was sent to live with relatives and was raised in Brooklyn, NY and New Jersey. Exceptionally creative and self-reliant at a young age, she went on to receive a B. S. degree in landscape architecture in 1917 from Cornell University and proceeded to launch her own practice in 1920. She is best known for designing the innovative landscape of Radburn, New Jersey, a "town for the motor age." Later in her career, she planned parks to accommodate newly mobile vacationers and gardens in housing developments intended to improve middle-class American life. At the height of the Depression, when even seasoned firms struggled to get by, she found work as a landscape architect, a planner, a university lecturer, a writer, and a professional speaker. She approached all her projects with a sense of profound social responsibility. Cautley's office records were destroyed near the end of her career, but Allaback delves into scrapbooks, photographs, drawings, planting plans, and Cautley's wide-ranging writings to weave her story. In Marjorie Sewell Cautley, she draws the portrait of a remarkable woman who created places reflecting many of the environmentally sensitive design practices that landscape architects strive for today.
Library of American Landscape History, 9781952620294, 208pp.
Publication Date: November 15, 2022
About the Author
SARAH ALLABACK is senior manuscript editor at LALH and an architectural historian specializing in the history of early American women architects. A coeditor of Warren H. Manning, Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner, she is also author of The First American Women Architects. Sarah lives in Amherst, MA.