Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver lived and worked together in Salem from 1929 until their retirement in 1970. Theirs was the first landscape architecture firm on the West Coast owned by women, and they designed over 250 projects, mainly in the Pacific Northwest, including Gaiety Hollow in Salem.

Gaiety Hollow
The parterre section with a view of the drying garden at Gaiety Hollow in Salem. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

Lord & Schryver

Elizabeth Lord was from a very prominent Salem family. Her father had served as governor and as an Oregon Supreme Court Justice. When she was 38, her mother died, and a new chapter of her life began. She decided to attend the Lowthorpe School of Landscape Architecture for Women in Groton, Massachusetts. The following year, 1927, Lord went to Europe on a school-sponsored tour and met Edith Schryver, who had graduated four years earlier.

New Yorker Edith Schryver was interested in landscape architecture from a young age and attended classes at Lowthorpe before she had even finished high school. She then attended full-time, graduating in 1923. Both during and after her time at Lowthorpe, Schryver was able to work at the offices of some of the most prominent female landscape architects of the time in Boston and New York.

Gaiety Hollow
The view toward the north lawn and Gaiety Hollow house from the West Allee. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

Once the two women met in 1927, they immediately hit it off. They moved back to Lord’s hometown of Salem in 1928 and started their firm in 1929. In 1930, they were hired to design the formal garden at Deepwood Estate. This was one of their most notable projects and is their only private estate project now under public ownership. They started focusing on private gardens like Deepwood, but expanded to include projects at Reed College and the University of Puget Sound and various Salem parks. Lord focused on the planting designs in their partnership, while Schryver did the design and construction pieces. The pair taught at Oregon State University occasionally, contributed to the local radio show “Home Garden House,” and wrote articles for “The Oregonian.”

In Salem, the two women had a house built for themselves at 545 Mission Street, just across the street from Bush’s Pasture Park. That property, Gaiety Hollow, was purchased by the Lord & Schryver Conservancy in 2015. The Conservancy, which has its headquarters and archive in the house, restored the garden to its Lord & Schryver design. They host free open garden events from April to September, and visitors can tour the home and gardens.

Gaiety Hollow
The entrance to the home and gardens at Gaiety Hollow. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

Gaiety Hollow

The house at Gaiety Hollow is a beautiful Colonial Revival home that Lord and Schryver had built specifically for them in 1932. The house has impressive windows, particularly facing the back gardens, and many of their designs are framed and hanging on the walls. Visitors can walk through most of the home’s main level, which the Conservancy uses for events.

The star of Gaiety Hollow is, of course, the gardens. Lord and Schryver divided it into six garden “rooms” that together create an enormously pleasing formal garden. They are separated by boxwood hedges and connected through brick paths. The entry garden welcomes the visitor, who then comes to the West Allée section, guiding them through undulating boxwood hedges. The original design highlighted a 350-year-old oak tree, but it died, and a newer, much smaller oak has been planted in its place. This area features flowering shrubs that bloom in the spring — rhododendron, azaleas, and lilacs.

Gaiety Hollow
The pergola as seen from the parterre garden at Gaiety Hollow in Salem. Photo credit: Mollie Nouwen

At the back of the property is a brick walk stretching from one side to the next of the site, with a pergola in the middle. The pergola has three vines at their best in different seasons — clematis in spring, rose in summer, and grape in fall. Situated in the middle of the property’s back border, the pergola allows visitors some of the best views of the garden overall.

The parterre section is the most complicated in the planting and the physical design. Each of the many beds in this section has elements that flower at different times in complementary colors, making it a fantastic show, whatever time of year you visit. The sophistication of Lord and Schryver’s designs and knowledge is very apparent here.

Adjacent to the parterre is the “drying garden,” so named because it was where Lord and Schryver dried their clothing, bringing it up from the basement washing area. The north lawn, adjacent to most of the gardens (and accessible as well), is a lush lawn in a semicircle emanating from the house. The evergreen garden with its small fountain and pond is tucked just off the lawn, next to the house. The most intimate space within the gardens, it features some outstanding flower placement.

Although the property is not large, the house and gardens demonstrate the harmonious vision and skill that Lord and Schryver brought to their projects. This site is of interest and suitable for people of all ages, from children to older adults.

Gaiety Hollow
545 Mission Street SE, Salem

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