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Helen Hawkins Clarke Collection

Identifier: ahc.MSS976

Scope and Contents of the Records

The Helen Hawkins Clarke collection contains landscape sketches drawn by Clarke. Photographs of Clarke at work and photographs of the work she completed in her garden are also included. Clarke’s clippings of photographs and landscape designs from popular magazines from the 1920s and 1930s constitute a large portion of the collection. The bulk of the collection dates from 1923-1938. The collection also contains two issues of Garden Gateways, correspondence regarding the restoration of the Thornton House gardens in Atlanta, personal correspondence from Perry H. Wheeler to Helen Clarke, one landscape design by Wheeler, and Helen Clarke’s drawing instruments.

Note: The Atlanta Art Alliance purchased the Thornton House, an outstanding example of 18th century cottage architecture used in Georgia’s Piedmont region, in 1959 for restoration and removal to the grounds of the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Soon afterward, expansion of the art center in Atlanta made relocating the Thornton House necessary. In 1967, the Art Alliance presented the house to the Stone Mountain Memorial Association for removal to Stone Mountain Park. Colonial Williamsburg, inc. consulted on the landscape restoration.


  • 1923-1982, undated


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

Helen Newton Hawkins (1892-1974), the daughter of William and Helen Hawkins, was born in Americus, Georgia on May 19, 1892. She moved to Atlanta with her family in the late 1890s and married insurance agent Arthur Clarke on November 4, 1914.

Helen Hawkins Clarke was an active member of the Junior League of Atlanta. Founded in 1914, the league promoted volunteerism for educational and charitable causes. In 1928, Clarke helped establish the Cherokee Garden Club, the second oldest garden club in Atlanta. As a club member, Clarke worked on community service projects, took horticultural courses and became involved with flower shows. She soon became an award-winning flower arranger and esteemed flower show judge in Georgia. On the domestic front, Helen Clarke raised a daughter, also named Helen. In addition, Clarke designed and executed an extensive garden at the home she and her husband purchased on West Andrews Drive in the Peachtree Heights Park neighborhood of Atlanta in 1929.

Clarke’s interest in horticulture led her to study landscape architecture at the University of Georgia. She entered the university’s program in 1935, the same year her daughter enrolled as a freshman. In 1936 and 1937, Clarke served as the horticultural chairperson for the Garden Club of Georgia and wrote extensively for the club’s publication Garden Gateways. During the late 1930s, Clarke worked with the landscape architectural firm of Newberry and Johnson. Helen Hawkins Clarke was one of the first women in Atlanta to practice in the field of landscape architecture. Immediately prior to World War II, Clarke formed a short-lived partnership with Perry H. Wheeler, who later became famous for his role in designing the White House Rose Garden during the Kennedy administration.

Clarke’s professional career as a landscape architect ended in the 1940s due to illness. However, she continued to help friends and family with their garden designs until her death on July 26, 1974.


2.5 linear ft.



Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged according to its original order.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Helen Clarke Benedict, 1983 (CGL 1983.01).

General Physical Description note

2.5 cubic feet; including 18 photographs, 16 pencil drawings, 3 black and white slides, 1 landscape blueprint, 2 publications, and 1 set of drawing instruments.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2007.
Helen Hawkins Clarke Collection
Inventory prepared by Erica Danylchak.
September 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305