Restoring the Barker Mansion Gardens
Hello Fellow History Lovers!
I’m Dr. Anna Weissman, social historian and Curator at the Barker Mansion. I want to share some fascinating archival finds about the Historical Barker Mansion Gardens and the restoration that was recently completed! Four designs of the garden (dated 1909) were found at the University of Michigan’s Bentley Library, done by none other than famed landscape architect Jens Jensen.
One of Jensen’s sketches, dates 1909.
Jens Jensen (1860–1951).
Jensen emigrated to the US from Denmark in 1860. He established himself in the Chicago park system, working from street sweeper up to gardener in Chicago’s Union Park. He was also an early supporter of public parks and green spaces for all. Jensen worked with several prominent architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan, and designed many beautiful private gardens throughout the Midwest, including our very own Barker Mansion. We believe that one of the designs would have been installed were it not for the Barkers’ untimely death in 1910.
We took inspiration from Jensen’s love of native plants when restoring The Barker Mansion Gardens. Updating some of Jensen’s suggestions (we couldn’t put in poisonous or invasive species…) this garden is not only a historical gem, but a stunning backdrop to celebrate a special day or just one of our “coffee in the garden” events!