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Garden Dialogues 2017: Caldwell Farm

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Caldwell Farm

Bristol, WI 53104

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“It’s never going to be finished. I’m going to keep working at it until I drop.”

- Alfred Caldwell discussing Caldwell Farm in an interview with Betty Blum, 1987

Landscape architect Alfred Caldwell was from an early age a thinker, a dreamer and a poet. One of his greatest achievements is nestled within Chicago’s Lincoln Park, the intimate 2.5-acre Lily Pool, designated a National Historic Landmark. However, perhaps the most revealing relation of Caldwell’s thought and expression is his farm in Bristol, Wisconsin. Purchased in 1948, this 40-acre-site, initially imagined for agrarian purposes, soon became a canvas, laboratory and classroom for Caldwell's practice. An hour and a half’s drive from Chicago (by 2017 traffic), it served as a sanctuary within which he put to practice considerations of design and ecology borne out of the influences of his mentor Jens Jensen, his teacher Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and many other Modern luminaries.

This exclusive Garden Dialogue, which will be moderated by Charles A. Birnbaum, TCLF’s president and CEO, features a walking tour of the farm with Dennis Domer, author of the definitive biography Alfred Caldwell: The Life and Work of a Prairie School Landscape Architect, a former distinguished professor at the University of Kentucky and the University of Kansas, and a close colleague of Caldwell for twenty years; Ron Henderson, the director of the Landscape Architecture and Urbanism Program at Illinois Institute of Technology and founding principal of L+A Landscape Architecture; and finally, Richard Polansky, an orchardist, estate manager, and a long-time employee and friend of Alfred Caldwell. Polansky has worked on Caldwell's estate in Bristol, WI since 1982, carrying out building and maintenance projects sustaining Caldwell's ideas and building practices. Since Caldwell's death in 1998, Polansky continues working with Caldwell’s children and grandchildren to ensure lasting accessibility and preservation of the farm.

This is an extremely rare opportunity to explore Caldwell Farm, a place that Caldwell himself defined as his “dream of education.”


All Caldwell quotes from:

Oral history of Alfred Caldwell / interviewed by Betty J. Blum, compiled under the auspices of the Chicago Architects Oral History Project, Department of Architecture, the Art Institute of Chicago (1987)


2.0 LA CES™ Professional development hours will be available to attendees.

Thanks to the generosity of our hosts and sponsors, tickets for Garden Dialogues are tax deductible and proceeds benefit the educational programs of The Cultural Landscape Foundation.




Refund Policy:

Cancellations and Refunds will be granted according to the following schedule:
Up to two (2) weeks in advance: 90% (Deduction represents administrative processing fees)
Less than two (2) weeks in advance but up to seven (7) days prior: 70%
No refunds will be made for cancellations seven (7) days prior to event
No refunds will be made for “No Shows” (a person who registers for a program but who does not cancel registration or attend the program).
Refunds will be processed as they are received or after the conclusion of the program, depending on the program date and when cancellation occurs. Refunds may take five (5) to seven (7) business days to process.

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Caldwell Farm

Bristol, WI 53104

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