The title of this "Glimpse" might be a bit surprising, for it is generally understood that William Pryor Letchworth was the creator of the Estate which would become Letchworth Park. Indeed, he was the man with the vision (and money) necessary to create the Glen Iris Estate. But Mr. Letchworth needed someone to give his vision life - that man was William Webster. It was Webster that created the Ornamental Farm which became the Glen Iris and the surrounding grounds.
In the Park archives are a few other Webster's plans for Glen Iris Gates, and three pieces of business correspondence between Mr. L. and Webster. His letterhead was very charming and in the header he described himself as a "Landscape Artist".
Little has been known regarding Letchworth landscape architect - his name doesn't even appear in the index of Larned's book. A few documents relating to Webster have been found in the Park's files - Webster's plans for the Glen Iris Gates and three pieces of business correspondence between Mr. Letchworth and Webster. Webster's letterhead identified him as a "Landscape Artist."
The following obituary was discovered by Ted Bartlett in the Rochester NY Union and Advertiser of March 9, 1911 and was sent to us by Leonora Brown. We thank both of them for sharing the information with us.
We have included the entire obituary below:
WM. WEBSTER DIES AT AGE OF 94 YEARS
Gardener and Horticulturist in Rochester.
Webster, the oldest landscape gardener in Rochester, and one
of the oldest in the state and country, died yesterday at his
home, 560 North Street, aged 94 years. He is survived by three
children, Mrs. Ambia Copthon, of this city, Mrs. Emma Coddington,
of Buffalo, and W. H. H. Webster who is the American Consul at
Niagara Falls. Mrs. Webster died two years ago.
Webster was born in Hampstead, England, and came to this country
in 1826. He came to Rochester in 1833 and immediately went to
work for Nehemiah Goodsell in the Eagle Hotel building, where
the Powers Building stands. Goodsell kept a seed store and owned
a small nursery. In the nursery young Webster began his education
as a training gardener.
speaking of his coming to this city Mr. Webster said: "In
the month of March 1834, the city was visited by a hurricane
that swept Alexander Street bare and leveled the forest where
Goodman Street is now laid out as cleanly as if a monster scythe
had been used."
"Fruit trees in all parts of the city were damaged. Those that remained blossomed out at a proper time and were in full bloom when in the middle of May there was a cold snap and a heavy snowstorm. Of course, there was no fruit that year. I remember the storm perfectly because with a party of young men I hired four white horses and a sleigh and drove up and down Main Street in honor of the event."