Julia Lester Dillon

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Julia Lester Dillon
Born(1871-03-09)March 9, 1871
DiedMarch 24, 1959(1959-03-24) (aged 88)
Occupationteacher, landscape architect, gardening columnist
Years active1890-1954
Known forSouthern gardening

Julia Lester Dillon (1871—1959) was a teacher from Georgia, who because of the death of her husband and her hearing loss, trained in landscape architecture. She was one of the first women to write extensively about gardening in the south and ran a regularly featured column which appeared in several newspapers and magazines. She designed spaces to enhance post offices for the U.S. Department of the Treasury and created the Memorial Park in Sumter, South Carolina. Based on her experience, she then served as Sumter Superintendent of Parks and Trees for twenty years. Dillon remained in Sumter after retiring. She continued writing until 1954, despite losing both her hearing and her sight. Julia Lester Dillon died in Sumter on March 24, 1959. She is buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Augusta Georgia. She was inscribed upon the Georgia Women of Achievement roster in 2003.

Hearing loss partial or total inability to hear

Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, is a partial or total inability to hear. A deaf person has little to no hearing. Hearing loss may occur in one or both ears. In children, hearing problems can affect the ability to learn spoken language and in adults it can create difficulties with social interaction and at work. In some people, particularly older people, hearing loss can result in loneliness. Hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.

Landscape architecture design of outdoor public areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioral, or aesthetic outcomes

Landscape architecture is the design of outdoor areas, landmarks, and structures to achieve environmental, social-behavioural, or aesthetic outcomes. It involves the systematic investigation of existing social, ecological, and soil conditions and processes in the landscape, and the design of interventions that will produce the desired outcome. The scope of the profession includes landscape design; site planning; stormwater management; erosion control; environmental restoration; parks and recreation planning; visual resource management; green infrastructure planning and provision; and private estate and residence landscape master planning and design; all at varying scales of design, planning and management. A practitioner in the profession of landscape architecture is called a landscape architect.

The Georgia Women of Achievement (GWA) recognizes women natives or residents of the U.S. state of Georgia for their significant achievements or statewide contributions. The concept was first proposed by Rosalynn Carter in 1988. The first induction was in 1992 at Wesleyan College, and has continued annually. The induction ceremonies are held each year during March, designated as Women's History Month. The organization consists of a Board of Trustees and a Board of Selections. Nominees must have been dead no less than ten years. Georgians, or those associated with Georgia, are selected based on the individual's impact on society. Nominations are proposed through documentation and an online nomination form, and must be submitted prior to October of any given year. GWA has traveling exhibits and speakers available upon request.



Julia Lester was born on 9 March [1] 1871 in Warren County, Ga., to Martha (née Pemble) and Benjamin D. Lester and grew up in Augusta, Georgia. [2] In 1866, she graduated from Tubman High School of Augusta [3] and went on to further her education at Peabody College, where she earned her teaching credentials in 1890. [4] That same year, she began teaching and was working at the Davidson Grammar School [3] in Augusta. [5] Lester married William Bennett Dillon, [6] who was principal of Central Grammar School, in 1892 but was widowed by 1894. Forced to be self-supporting, Dillon returned to teaching and taught for several years at Houghton Grammar School; then in Louisiana between 1905 and 1906; and later at a women's night school, D'Antignac School, for several years. Because of hearing loss, possibly due to diphtheria, she looked for other sources of income, including writing and becoming a stenographer for Dr. T. E. Oertel for a time. [3]

Augusta, Georgia Consolidated city-county in Georgia, United States

Augusta, officially Augusta–Richmond County, is a consolidated city-county on the central eastern border of the U.S. state of Georgia. The city lies across the Savannah River from South Carolina at the head of its navigable portion. Georgia's second-largest city after Atlanta, Augusta is located in the Piedmont section of the state.

Tubman High School

Tubman High School is a historic high school building in Augusta, Georgia. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 7, 1994. It is located at 1740 Walton Way. It was named for Augusta philanthropist Emily Tubman and was founded as Neely's Institute in 1874. A new Tubman High School building was funded by a bond issue and constructed in 1917 according to designs by G. Lloyd Preacher. The three-story brick building's design is considered Beaux Arts architecture and includes terra cotta. It was the area's only public high school for girls until the 1950s.

Peabody College school in Nashville, Tennessee

Peabody College of Education and Human Development is one of ten colleges and schools that comprise Vanderbilt University. Peabody College provides graduate, undergraduate, and professional education. Peabody's faculty are organized across five departments, and include researchers in education, psychology, public policy, human development, special education, educational leadership, and organizational development. Peabody has a long history as an independent institution before becoming part of Vanderbilt University in 1979. The college was ranked sixth among graduate schools of education in the United States in the 2020 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. It was ranked as the top graduate school of education in the nation during the 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 editions of those rankings.

Landscape career

In 1907 she took courses at Columbia University and later at Harvard College in landscape design. She began a private practice in Augusta working on residential landscapes and expanded to the public sector, completing projects for both parks and schools. She continued writing in the 1910s and 1920s publishing articles about southern gardening in The Florists' Exchange, The Flower Grower and House and Garden , [4] as well as publishing an ongoing column on gardening for The Augusta Chronicle . [3] Between 1914 and 1917, she was commissioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to landscape several post offices and custom houses [4] in Florida, Georgia and North and South Carolina. [6] In addition to her commissioned work, Dillon also created a project to teach gardening to children. The Merchant and Manufacturers Association provided funds for school children to plant on empty lots and offered prizes for beautification. The project was so successful that it was launched into a citywide campaign which included involvement from businesses and various civic organizations. During World War I, Dillon joined the Red Cross and along with other women participated in the Woman's Messenger Motor Service, (officially called the Red Cross Motor Corps) and made both garments and surgical supplies. In 1919, she served on the board of the State Federation of Professional and Businesswomen's Club, which in addition to improving the professional prospects of women, urged the legislature to grant suffrage. [3]

Columbia University Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university in Upper Manhattan, New York City. Established in 1754, Columbia is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It is one of nine colonial colleges founded prior to the Declaration of Independence, seven of which belong to the Ivy League. It has been ranked by numerous major education publications as among the top ten universities in the world.

Harvard College main undergraduate school of Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts

Harvard College is the undergraduate liberal arts college of Harvard University. Founded in 1636 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and one of the most prestigious in the world.

<i>House & Garden</i> (magazine) American magazine

House & Garden is an American shelter magazine published by Condé Nast Publications that focusses on interior design, entertaining, and gardening.

In 1920, land was donated by citizens in Sumter, South Carolina to create Memorial Park, as a memorial to soldiers from the first World War and Dillon was hired to complete the design and supervise the project. [6] Though she moved to Sumter, around the same time, Dillon was elected to serve as the Chairman of the Forestry Committee for the Georgia Federation of Women's Clubs. In 1921, she attended the Forestry Congress in her capacity as chair [7] and was considered one of the experts in her field. [8] Her 1922 book, The Blossom Circle of the Year in Southern Gardens, became widely known [4] and then in 1927, she pushed for the founding of Sumter's first garden club. [6] When she moved to Sumter, Dillon continued with her writing, publishing columns on gardening which regularly appeared in both The Sumter Daily Item and The State published in Columbia, South Carolina, [9] as well as The Atlanta Journal-Constitution . [10] Upon completion of the city park, Dillon was offered a full-time position as the city landscape architect, [4] in 1928 as the Sumter Superintendent of Parks and Trees. Among many projects she planned during this period was the 1938 design for Swan Lake Iris Gardens, though the land was not donated until 1949, after [11] Dillon's retirement in 1948. [4] When she retired, Dillon returned to Georgia and continued writing about gardening even though she had also began to lose her sight. [4] Her column ran in the Flower Grower magazine from 1936 to 1954. [12]

Sumter, South Carolina City in South Carolina, United States

Sumter is a city in and the county seat of Sumter County, South Carolina, United States. Known as the Sumter Metropolitan Statistical Area, the namesake county adjoins Clarendon and Lee to form the core of Sumter-Lee-Clarendon tricounty area of South Carolina that includes the three counties in the east central Piedmont. The population was 39,643 at the 2000 census, and it rose to 40,524 at the 2010 census.

Garden club organized group of people with a shared interest in gardening

A garden club is an organized group of people with a shared interest in gardening, gardens, and plants. A flower club is a similar group with a focus on flowers.

<i>The Item</i>

The Item, formerly known as The Sumter Daily Item and The Daily Item, is an independent, morning newspaper published in Sumter, South Carolina, by Osteen Publishing Company. It has a circulation of approximately 20,000.

She died on March 24, 1959 in Augusta, Georgia and was buried at the Magnolia Cemetery beside her husband. [2] Posthumously, in 1965 a plaque bearing her name was erected by the Sumter Garden Club to honor her contributions to the city [9] and in 2003, she was inscribed upon the Georgia Women of Achievement roster. [2] Dillon is credited with coining the phrase "The Garden City of the South" to refer to Augusta, Georgia and was called the "dean of Southern gardening" by Flower Grower magazine. [12]


Selected works

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  1. Lythgoe, Darrin (2001). "Julia Lester". Singleton Family. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  2. 1 2 3 Moore, Ivy (February 26, 2003). "Georgia Names Dillon 'Woman of Achievement'". Sumter, South Carolina: The Item. p. 4A. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Caldwell, Lee Ann (February–March 2013). "Julia Lester Dillon: A Most Remarkable Woman". Augusta, Georgia: Augusta Magazine. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Julia Lester Dillon". Washington, D.C.: The Cultural Landscape Foundation. 2001. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  5. "City of Augusta Pictured in the Exposition Edition of 1891" (PDF). Augusta, Georgia: The Augusta Chronicle. 1891. p. 13.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 McElveen, W. A. "Bubba" (March 2, 1995). "Julia Dillon made Sumter a prettier place". Sumter, South Carolina: The Item. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  7. "Club Woman of Georgia Holds Unique Position". Atlanta, Georgia: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. July 3, 1921. p. 28. Retrieved 22 December 2015 via Newspaperarchive.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  8. "Mrs. Julia Dillon, Forestry Expert, Here for Congress". Atlanta, Georgia: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. July 21, 1921. p. 6. Retrieved 22 December 2015 via Newspaperarchive.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  9. 1 2 "Fitting Tribute Paid to Julia Lester Dillon". Sumter, South Carolina: The Sumter Daily Item. March 31, 1965. p. 6B. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  10. "Forestry Chairman Urges Protection for Trees". Atlanta, Georgia: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. February 20, 1921. p. 30. Retrieved 22 December 2015 via Newspaperarchive.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  11. "New project tracks endangered Trumpeter swan". Sumter, South Carolina: The Item. February 16, 2000. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  12. 1 2 Cline, Erica C. (March 8, 2003). "Blossom of the Garden City". Augusta, Georgia: Augusta Chronicle. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  13. "Dillon, Julia Lester". Macon, Georgia: Georgia Women of Achievement. 2003. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  14. "Plan to Beauty Post Office Grounds". Thomasville, Georgia: Thomasville Daily Times Enterprise. March 6, 1917. p. 3. Retrieved 22 December 2015 via Newspaperarchive.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg