1996-04-13 Brookwood Gardens 3715 Fairfield, now855 McCormick Blvd

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1996-04-13 Brookwood Gardens 3715 Fairfield, now855 McCormick Blvd - Brookwood Gardens7 Grandeur a THE PRESENCE OF...
Brookwood Gardens7 Grandeur a THE PRESENCE OF THE PAST ERIC J. BROCK to! i One of the largest and most impor-' impor-' impor-' J ' tant residences built in Shreveport dur-' dur-' dur-' 4. ing the oil boom period was "Brook-' "Brook-' "Brook-' wood Gardens," the home of Mr. and Mrs. James Emory Smitherman, Sr. though the once-sprawiing once-sprawiing once-sprawiing estate nas since been divided and covered up with development, traces of its earlier '"' grandeur are still evident. Located at 3751 Fairfield, the sprawl-' sprawl-' sprawl-' ing Smitherman estate was bounded by i- i- McCormick Boulevard on the north, :: Dudley Drive on the south, and Line Avenue on the east. Though the house still stands (its street address now changed to 855 McCormick), McCormick), it is almost hidden amidst the swarm of townhouses that surround surround it, occupying virtually every square foot of the land that once provided provided a sweeping vista from the mansion mansion and, likewise, an impressive view of the commanding house from Fairfield. Fairfield. The total land area of the Smitherman Smitherman estate was almost 13 acres, acquired acquired in .May, 1923 from the A.C. Steere Company and the late B.F. O'Neal, Sr., who were then developing much of the South Highlands area of town. The total cost of the land alone in 1923 dollars was $161,475, equivalent to about $1.5 million today. Shreveport architect Edward F. Neild Sr., was engaged to design the house itself, while Kansas City, Mo landscape landscape architect A. Pharo Gage was hired to lay out the grounds. The house itself, which was the largest residence residence in the city when it was completed completed in 1925, was a two-story two-story two-story red brick manor of the Neo-Georgian Neo-Georgian Neo-Georgian style. It had seven bedrooms, four upstairs baths, a downstairs powder room, entrance entrance foyer, library, parlor, solarium, dining room, breakfast room, service pantry and kitchen, in addition to a full attic and basement (unusual in this region). The Werner Company, building building contractors, constructed the house and outbuildings. Along McCormick Street was placed the main gate, guarded by a two-story two-story two-story gatehouse. A circular drive ran behind the main house, past a large dog-run, dog-run, dog-run, chicken yard, vegetable garden, green- green- house, formal flower garden and bubbling bubbling fountain, eventually leading to a four-car four-car four-car garage. Behind the garage, facing facing out onto Dudley Drive, was a tennis tennis court. The lawn, sweeping down from the curving terrace or the house toward Fairfield, doubled as a golf fairway. fairway. A circular gazebo overlooked Bayou Pierre, which was then a flowing flowing stream. Years later a swimming pool was added near this gazebo, which still stands amidst the town-houses town-houses town-houses that now occupy the grounds. Several formal gardens surrounded the main house. At the northeast corner corner of the property, where Line and McCormick intersect, was a fair-sized fair-sized fair-sized orchard. This property, and the portion of land now occupied by a cul-de-sac cul-de-sac cul-de-sac cul-de-sac cul-de-sac at the western end of Slattery Boulevard, Boulevard, were sold off from the original estate and subdivided years before the acreage fronting Fairfield was sacrificed. sacrificed. The small strip of several lots facing Dudley at the corner of Line was the only part of the block not originally part of Brookwood Gardens. The oaks on the McCormick Boulevard Boulevard neutral ground were planted by the Smithermans, as were hundreds of trees on the property, many of which are now gone. There was a barn on the estate, which was largely self-sufficient. self-sufficient. self-sufficient. Ihe large (more than one acre) vegeta ble garden provided fresh vegetables and dairy cows provided milk. Horses were kept in the bam and were used to pull the mowing devices that kept the lawns trim. In a 1972 interview, one of the Smitherman sons, Scott (1921-1993), (1921-1993), (1921-1993), recalled recalled having roller skating parties in the huge basement of the house. He also also recalled the front yard being used not only for golf but also for polo matches and as a football field. The front yard pond was fed by the then-wild then-wild then-wild Bayou Pierre. Scott Smitherman recalled once catching a four-pound four-pound four-pound bass there. James Smitherman (1882-1967), (1882-1967), (1882-1967), a native native of Bienville Parish and once a Baton Baton Rouge lawyer, made his fortune in the oil business during its early days here, coming to Shreveport in 1914. His greatest successes as an independent independent oilman were in the Pine Island and Homer fields and as a member of the Haynesville and Cotton Valley Syndicates, Syndicates, as well as later associations with the Carterville and White Sulphur Springs discoveries and with discoveries discoveries in Nevada County, Arkansas. He and his wife, Ina Thompson Smitherman (1886-1946), (1886-1946), (1886-1946), of East Feliciana Feliciana Parish, were the parents of four sons. Mrs. Smitherman was a noted patroness of the arts and letters here. Memory Smitherman Drive in southeast Shreveport Shreveport is named for the family, upon whose plantation much of the Town South neighborhood was built. The period of Brookwood Gardens' glory was short-lived, short-lived, short-lived, however. In May 1972, the estate was sold by the three surviving Smitherman sons to Beal Locke and Associates and T&H, Inc. for $400,000. The site was then developed as "Tealwood," a development of 69 townhouses. Why the Tealwood name was chosen instead of the historical "Brookwood" is a mystery. Though the townhouses are very fine, upscale residences, residences, their crowded layout on the property obliterates any sign of the estate's estate's past beauty. Fortunately, the mansion itself remains remains on two acres of land at the rear of Tealwood, its gatehouse and part of its side yard preserved. Around the townhouse development stands the original fence (though broken up in several places to accommodate additional additional entrances). The gazebo still stands by the pool and the live oaks still line McCormick Boulevard, bearing mute testimony to the brief grandeur that too quickly vanished. Eric J. Brock is a Shreveport historian

Clipped from The Times13 Apr 1996, SatPage 13

The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana)13 Apr 1996, SatPage 13
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  • 1996-04-13 Brookwood Gardens 3715 Fairfield, now855 McCormick Blvd

    pggrant – 03 Dec 2016

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