Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Garden, Seal Harbor, Maine
1889 - 1980

Alice Orme Smith

Born in Normal, Illinois, Smith attended Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, earning a B.A. in 1911. She then trained as a nurse at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, working there until 1917. Smith served in World War I, spending the next two years in France. Upon her return she enrolled at the Armour Institute’s College of Architecture in Chicago, receiving a Master’s degree in 1922. From 1920 to 1923 she worked for architect Earl Reed and landscape architect Ralph Rodney Root. In 1926 Smith earned an M.L.A. from the Cambridge School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, which was officially awarded to her in 1935 upon the school’s merger with Smith College to create an M.L.A. program. She was employed by Harold Hill Blossom from 1925 to 1926 and moved to New York City after graduating from the Cambridge School. For the next four years, she worked with Beatrix Farrand on plans for Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., and the walled Chinese garden at John D. Rockefeller’s estate in Mount Desert, Maine. From 1930 to 1932 Smith worked in Peking, China, where she produced measured drawings of Chinese gardens for the Swedish architect Oswald Siren. In 1932 she opened her own landscape design office in New York City. The majority of her commissions were in the northeastern United States, and she operated offices in New York City and Fairfield, Connecticut. In addition to residential commissions, Smith also designed the grounds of the American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford, Connecticut, and worked on the Garden of Today and the Garden of Religion for the 1939 New York World’s Fair.

Smith became a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1974. She died at the age of 91 in Fairfield, Connecticut, and was buried in Evergreen Memorial Cemetery in Bloomington, Illinois.