The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of: Dr. J. Horace McFarland


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Presentation delivered by Joyce Connolly, Museum Specialists at the Smithsonian's Archives of American Gardens, at the Smithsonian Archives Fair on October 22, 2010 in Washington, DC.

A summary of the multi-faceted career of J. Horace McFarland (1859-1948), noted printer, City Beautiful advocate, author and horticulturist.

Published in: Education, Sports, Business
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The Most Famous Man You’ve Never Heard Of: Dr. J. Horace McFarland

  1. 1. Archives of American Gardens
  2. 2.
  3. 3. Capture American garden history before it is lost Preserve unique and high- quality images of historic and contemporary gardens Make documentation readily accessible for a variety of research purposes
  4. 4. Born near Harrisburg, PA Father was a schoolmaster, Union Army Lt. Col., supt. of PA’s orphans’ schools, nurseryman, publisher of weekly newspaper Inspired by photography & printing exhibits at 1876 Centennial Exposition  bought his father’s press in 1878 at age of 19 At Breeze Hill, 1909.
  5. 5. Started printing short seed lists Created a niche in horticultural advertising Advertised his services to nurseries throughout U.S. Large contracts – thousands of catalogs
  6. 6. Moved business to former school in downtown Harrisburg Conveniently located Educated growers about importance of advertising year round Other print commissions Mount Pleasant Press May 1907
  7. 7. Composition/Art/ Layout Photography/Photo Sales Electrotyping Pressroom Bindery Publicity “Intelligent Printing”
  8. 8. Pioneer in plant portraiture Extensive photography services Image library with 30,000-40,000 images Bissell Garden, Rochester, NY. June 1916.
  9. 9. Studied under William Kurtz Inventor of 3-color photo engraving process Managed Kurtz’s Coloritype Co. in 1894
  10. 10. Breeze Hill September 1928
  11. 11. Unidentified Garden. c. 1930s.
  12. 12. Lectured at Harvard Graduate School of Business on printing and publishing (1912- 17) Consulted with U.S. Patent & Trademark Office on 1930 Plant Patent Act Work for major publishers
  13. 13. 2.5 acre property approx. 1 mile from Mount Pleasant Press “My Growing Garden” (1915) Opened to the public J. Horace McFarland at Breeze Hill. May 1942.
  14. 14. Trial gardens for commercial growers and USDA Used for numerous Mt. Pleasant Press publicity shots
  15. 15. Member of Municipal League of Harrisburg (1901- 46) Comprehensive plan for parks system, water and sewer systems, street paving Illustrated lecture on the “Harrisburg Plan” Member of Harrisburg Park Commission (1905-13) Harrisburg Alley, c. 1910s. Penn. State Archives
  16. 16. First President of American Civic Association (1904-24) Promoted education & advocacy Prolific communicator Fight to protect Niagara Falls (1905-13) & Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy (1909-13) Niagara Falls, c. 1905
  17. 17. “the city clean, the city practical, the city efficient” “Campaign against Ugliness” Appointed to U.S. Dept. of Labor’s Comm’n on Living Conditions for War Workers (1918-19) Member of U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Commission on Zoning (1921-37)  Chairman of Penn. State Arts Commission (1927-43)
  18. 18. White House Governors’ Conference on Conservation (1908) Drafted 1st version of bill to create NPS (1910) NPS established (1916) Yellowstone Nat’l Park, Colter Peak &Turret Mountain NPS photo by J Schmidt. 1977.
  19. 19. Hundreds of magazine articles Outlook, Ladies’ Home Journal, House and Garden, Garden and Home Building, etc. Trade journal articles Printing, photography Authored a dozen books Self-professed ‘Garden Crank’ J. Horace McFarland at Breeze Hill May 27, 1947
  20. 20. Edited American Rose Annual (1916-43) Helped develop 5-part standard for classifying roses Editor McFarland, J. Horace McFarland, and Breeze Hill roses Headed American Joint Committee on Hort’l Nomenclature (1914-23) Dedication of Harrisburg Municipal Rose Garden by ARS September 15, 1938
  21. 21. Archives of American Gardens SI Libraries NMAH’s Horticulture Trade Literature Collection Botany & Horticulture Branch USDA, National Agricultural Library Pennsylvania State Archives McFarland Exhibit Folger Rose Garden, Summer 2010
  22. 22. Biography, A Thorn for Beauty, documents his achievements ARS J. Horace McFarland Memorial Award (established 1951) Mount Pleasant Press now an apartment building
  23. 23. Breeze Hill, 1923. McFarland Collection images available at