WPA Worker Statue
The Norfolk Botanical Garden is a 155 acre garden with 12 miles of paved trails and 65,000 plants. It receives about 300,000 visitors every year. Among the many interesting things at the Garden are tram tours, boat tours, a library, and a Children’s Adventure Garden.
The beginning and early development of the Norfolk Botanical Garden is described on the Garden’s website (see source note below):
“On June 30, 1938, Representative Norman R. Hamilton announced a Works Progress Administration (WPA) grant of $76,278 for the Azalea Garden project. Since most of the male labor force was at work with other projects for the city, a group of more than 200 African American women and 20 men were assigned to the Azalea Garden project.
Laboring from dawn until dusk, the labor crew cleared dense vegetation and carried the equivalent of 150 truck loads of dirt by hand to build a levee for the lake. The laborers were paid twenty-five cents an hour for their hard work. Within less than a year, a section of underbrush had been cleared and readied for planting. By March of 1939, four thousand azaleas, two thousand rhododendrons, several thousand miscellaneous shrubs and trees and one hundred bushels of daffodils had been planted.
In August of 1939, Representative Colgate W. Darden Jr. secured an additional $138,553 for the Azalea Garden, and the founding of the Old Dominion Horticultural Society provided volunteer labor to assist the Garden. By 1941 the Garden displayed nearly five thousand azaleas, and seventy-five landscaped acres that were encompassed by five miles of walking trails.”
Norfolk Botanical Garden, https://norfolkbotanicalgarden.org/, accessed May 25, 2014.
Project originally submitted by Sarah Downing and Brent McKee (wpatoday.org) on May 28, 2014.
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