John Gregg spoke to the need to move garden ornaments and figures in order to keep them visible to the eye. The large Diana (now in Hawaii), the lead faun and the Three Graces moved about the Park and gardens.
These two post card dates from the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. They show the placement of the original Chinese musicians and the Three Graces at the Lost Garden.
A pavilion with five inset shelters served as the focal point for this garden. The central inset held the marble copy of the Canova Venus (now in the marbled hallway leading to the Carriage House/dining room) as well as a spiral staircase leading to a rooftop sunbathing platform. John Gregg designed the Lost Garden in 1932. John and Robert would repeat this theme at their Kauai estate.
In 1951, the University published two brochures (pictured) of introduction to the newly opened Robert Allerton Park. President George Stoddard wrote a short welcome and Dean Rexford Newcomb authored the text of introduction in the black and white brochure printed on slick paper. This brochure gave introduction to the most important features of Robert’s gift – the landscaped gardens and fine art, the House architecture and offered photographs of the House interior.
The other brochure, also published in 1951 but on rag paper, gave more in depth information about the Park holdings – statuary, formal gardens including the Lost Garden. This brochure offered no photographs of the House interior. It also presented a good aerial photo of the Lost Garden.
In the transcript 1978 interview between Dr. Theobald and John Gregg Allerton at the Hawaii estate, John Gregg stated that the Herculaneum group had previously been installed at the Lost Garden. Where was this massive figural group installed within the Lost Garden?
At the Kuaui estate, the Herculaneum group hold court on the expansive stone patio outside the main entrance to the house.
Both brochures provided views of the Lost Garden pavilion, the Chinese musicians and the lead faun statue on a pedestal at the train head. The lead faun was last seen in storage in the former gardening shed behind the Visitor’s Center. The statue had little art value. It was simply decorative garden art and modeled after the classical statues. The Allerton Lead Faun was reportedly a copy of the one at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
For Robert, an aesthete, the display of great original art was less important than the artistic expression conveyed by the staging of copies. How does the impressive figure of Adam lend itself to the experience of the garden visit? While the ‘real deal’ from the Art Institute would be better, the copy Adam in limestone gives the garden stroller the impression of ‘real.’
For central Illinois, the choices are limited for ornamental horticulture to enhance architectural details. After John Gregg entered Robert’s life, the couple purchased works of original art that became the architectural focus of the garden design. While the Sunsinger supersize was a surprise, the scope of the landscaping for his installation provided a stunning design. In the case of Kauai, the horticultural possibilities are dramatic, year around and offer a tension equal to the man-made elements.
None of the pieces documented by photo or interview to have been at the Lost Garden were unique pieces of original art nor valuable. They were good quality and expensive yard art ornamental copies. At the Lost Garden, however, they must have made quite an impression in a setting where it would be possible to become lost in time.
The Lost Garden Pavilion was razed in 1972. The subject of this destruction rankled John Gregg Allerton. In 1976, the Park Director was called for an explanation of the destruction. The animosity between John Gregg and the Park Director became evident and continued as campus administrators and other insiders began to raise financial questions that went unanswered.