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COLLECTION Identifier: DES-1980-0001-000603309

Correspondence of William L. Phillips with Prentiss French and Julia A. Field

Content Description

The Collection consists of correspondence exchanged between two landscape architects - teacher and student - William Lyman Phillips (Harvard University B.A. 1908, M.L.A. 1910) and Prentiss French (Harvard University M.L.A. 1921). Perhaps best known as the designer of Florida's Fairchild Tropical Garden, Phillips' letters discuss both professional and personal matters.

The Collection also includes the correspondence exchanged between Phillips and Julia A. Field, who received the above-mentioned correspondence from Prentiss and donated it to Frances Loeb Library.


  • Majority of material found within 1943 -1967


1 box (6 folders.)

Biographical / Historical

William Lyman Phillips (1885 - 1966), landscape architect, town planner and architect, worked primarily in Florida where he designed such sites as Fairchild Tropical Gardens, Bok Tower Gardens, Mountain Lake Colony, Greynolds Park and Matheson Hammock Park. Phillips graduated from the Graduate School of Design in 1910. He worked for Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm from 1911 - 1913, 1915 - 1917, 1920 - 1922 and as a field representative for the Olmsted firm from 1923 - 1931. He also assisted in designing the town of Balboa, Panama, was the superintendent of graves for the American military cemeteries in France after World War I, and was a project superintendent for the Civilian Conservation Corps (1933 - 1941). From the 1930s until his death WLP worked for the state and as an independent landscape architect working on private residences, public buildings, hospitals, hotels, cemeteries, airports, parks and highways.

Prentis French (1894 - 1989) graduated from Williams College in 1917 and earned his M.L.A. from Harvard University School of Landscape Architecture in 1921. He worked for the Olmsted Brothers for three years, taught for one year at the University of Massachusetts, and later was employed by the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers on the planning of Venice, Florida. He married the architect Helen Douglass, with whom he established a professional practice in Massachusetts. Later they moved to Sarasota, Florida to work with the architect Clarence Martin. During the Second World War, French was enlisted with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After the war, they moved to the San Francisco area and operated their firm there until the 1960s. The Archives of Prentiss and Helen French are held at the UC Berkeley Environmental Design Archives.

Julia Allen Field (1927 – 2010), was a graduate of Radcliffe College (A.B. 1960) and of Harvard GSD (M.L.A. 1965). She was an environmental and animal rights activist, and environmental planner. She worked as a lion trainer in Thousand Oaks, California, and the Director of the Crandon Park Zoo in Miami. She worked as a planner on the protection of the Colombian Amazon River and forest. The GSD holds the records of Amazonia 2000 Initiative, of which she was the President, related to that work. She was a friend of and corresponded with both Phillips and French.


The Collection is divided into six files (folders).

Folder 1 contains a letter to the GSD library from Julia A. Field donating the correspondence to the GSD library. Folder 2 contains a letter to Julia A. Field from Prentiss French sending her the correspondence he received from Phillips. Folder 3 represents the focus of the collection and contains the letters from Phillips to Prentiss French. Folder 4 contains letters from Phillips to Julia A. Field. Folder 5 contains a report on the Fairchild Tropical Gared written by Phillips. Folder 6 contains Phillips' obituary written by Prentiss French.

Related Materials

FLL holds the Papers of William Lyman Phillips (Hollis number 007605360), a comprehensive collection that covers his professional life and work between early 1900s and 1960s .

Processing Information

Finding aid was created by Igor Ekštajn in 2023.

Correspondence of William L. Phillips with Prentiss French and Julia A. Field
A Descriptive Inventory of the Holdings at the Frances Loeb Library
Special Collections, Frances Loeb Library, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Frances Loeb Library Repository

The archival collections at GSD consist of primary source materials that further academic research in the design fields both within the GSD and beyond Harvard University. These materials, individually and collectively, offer engaging documentation of design history, theory, and practice. For further information, please visit:

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