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11-11-21 | Department

Reimaged Garden at Girl Scout Museum

Uses Hardscapes to Create Accessibility

Located in Savannah, Georgia, the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is where the Girl Scouts were founded in 1912. In 2018, the museum wanted to renovate the garden area to accommodate all accessibility needs of their guests, so they consulted Barge Design Solutions and Savannah Surfaces to design the hardscape of the area.
The garden area and courtyard were expanded with Savannah Surfaces' Old World Tabby and natural bluestone cobble. The bluestone cobble is a traditional material that was used when the city was founded. The courtyard and garden were designed in such a way that they tie the old in with the new to create an organic feel.
The garden area, featuring oyster white paving and natural bluestone cobble, was designed so Girl Scout troops, who visit from all over the world, can gather and conduct ceremonies. The bronze statue in the middle of the garden is of Juliette Gordon Low and her dog.

The Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace is a Girl Scouts museum located in Savannah, Georgia. The museum is a designated National Historic Landmark as the location where Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts. The house had been in place for over 150 years as Juliette was born in 1860. The site was later purchased by the Girl Scouts in 1953 when the house was scheduled to be demolished. This created the idea to have a place for Girl Scouts across the national to be able visit and connect with the history of the organization.

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The museum contains several buildings and different areas for guests to visit, and one in particular, the garden, had been in place for decades as was due for an upgrade. The vision of this project focused on accomplishing two main goals: first, the museum wanted to reimagine the space to establish a more cohesive campus that connect the surrounding historic buildings through the garden so the space could be used in more efficient and logical ways. The second goal was to modernize the garden to make it more accessible for individuals with disabilities, this was the biggest emphasis of the project. However, being a historic site, there was public "push back" on the project as many wanted the original garden preserved, but the accessibility concerns were determined to be too essential, so the project moved forward.
Towards the end of 2018, the museum received a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services that allowed them to begin the early stages of research in creating an accessible space. Shannon Browning-Mullis, executive director of the Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, elaborated on their direction of the process as she said, "what we did by adding elevators and putting in ramps and create a garden area and hardscape that allows for wheelchairs, stroller, and walkers, is we made the site much more accessible to people with disabilities to establish a home all visitors and especially all girl scout"
The museum specified Savannah Surfaces to provide the hardscape/paving material for the garden. Jonathan Rhangos, owner of Savannah Surfaces explained their role in the project as they assisted the Landscape Architect in deciding the paving material and they installed the paving as well. The team elected to use a collection of blue stone, the manufacture's Old World Tabby porcelain paving, and cast stone.
The direction of the hardscape material had two main factors. First, the team recognized that blue stone was found throughout the site before these renovations took place. Therefore, they wanted to connect the new garden to the existing infrastructure by introducing the blue stone into this section of the project. The second factor was centered around selecting material that aided in this museums goal of accessibility. Rhangos noted the use of an oyster shell paving on the previous garden which sparked the idea of their Old World Tabby porcelain tile. This sustainable paving features a textured oyster shell finish that establishes an easily walkable surface.
At the end of the day, I believe the materials that were used were a great fit
because the garden still speaks to the history of the property in a modern and functional way for all of the girl scouts and the public to enjoy," Rhangos said. "One great thing about what we did is they have now have the garden open to the public, and it's great for the city and the museum."

Filed Under: SAVANNAH, , LASN
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