Master of Landscape Architecture (MLA)
The purpose of thesis is to provide a preliminary history of Middlegate Japanese Gardens and to make public their significance as an example of the landscape architecture that was typical during the Country Place Era, and their significance within the community of Pass Christian and the City of New Orleans. As it now stands the story of Middlegate Japanese Gardens is not known in its own neighborhood. Between 1923 and 1929 New Orleans residents Rudolf Hecht and Lynne Watkins Hecht developed Middlegate Japanese Gardens at their summer home in Pass Christian, Mississippi. The Hecht’s built Middlegate Japanese gardens to perpetuate their pleasant memories of their travels in Japan. In 1979 the Middlegate residence and gardens were listed as contributing element, number 88 in the Scenic Drive Historic District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Since 1923 when the Hecht’s established them, Middlegate Japanese Gardens have been private, residential gardens. Although the heirs subdivided the property in 1962, the family still owns the gardens. Middlegate Japanese Gardens are furnished with Japanese antiquities that the Hecht’s collected in Japan between 1900 and 1929. Little documentation exists for the garden objects. Three garden statues were listed in the estate of Dorothy Cooper, a bronze Buddha and two bronze warriors. In his book, Around the Face of the Globe, Rudolf Hecht gave the origin of the Buddha as the Gardens of the Daibutsu in Kamakura Japan. One of the highlights of the garden is a large concrete swimming pool designed to look like a natural lagoon. A waterfall fed by an artesian well fills the pool and water overflows into a little river that meanders through the garden. Teahouses sit on top of hills that were created by fill from the pool. New Orleans Architect Rathbone DeBuys, designed the Japanese style buildings in the garden. Mississippi craftsmen used local building methods and local materials to construct the teahouses, guest house and pool house. Blue barrel tiles that cover the roofs of the Japanese style buildings are designed with an end cap for an embossed image. There is no documentation of the gardens’ history. No archives exist for Rudolf or Lynne Watkins Hecht. The thesis details the methods used to find existing information on Middlegate Japanese Gardens and its founders Rudolf Hecht and Lynne Watkins Hecht. It places the gardens in the context of the national movements in landscape architecture, showing how they were influenced by the ideas of their time.
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Legett, Margaret Anne, "Middlegate Japanese Gardens: preservation, private property and public memory" (2004). LSU Master's Theses. 3251.