It is rare for a historic house and garden to survive intact together. The Anne Spencer House & Garden is an exception. The documentation of Anne Spencer’s House & Garden highlights the garden’s significance to our history and chronicles its evolution from a home and gathering space to a nationally important cultural landscape.
Anne Spencer was a Harlem Renaissance poet, a teacher, a librarian, and a civil rights advocate who established the Lynchburg, VA chapter of the NAACP. Her garden was her sanctuary. It was where she wrote, and it inspired much of her poetry.
Spencer’s home and garden were a gathering place for luminaries like Langston Hughes, George Washington Carver, Thurgood Marshall, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Her garden still has a sculpture gifted to her by W.E.B. DuBois. The home and garden are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
The Suzanne and Frederic Rheinstein Garden Documentation Program at the Garden Conservancy seeks to capture and to share the essence of something that is largely experiential—the beauty and stories of a garden. This presents unique challenges and requires an innovative and layered approach to create a multi-dimensional portrait of a garden, a living work of art. Our documentation program is using words and pictures, letters and notebooks, drawings and plant lists, along with stories, sounds, and experiences that have inspired garden creators. The goal is to build, over time, an online resource that brings gardens to life in a new way in an educational tool that will continue to provide important insights for years to come.