William H. Kessler, 1880-1966
H. Kessler was born in Nebraska in 1880. As a young man he worked under P.J.
Berkman of Fruitland Nursery in Augusta, Georgia. In the early 1900’s Robert
Jemison, Jr. contracted with Fruitland Nursery to prepare landscape designs for
the Mountain Terrace section of Birmingham. Kessler traveled to Birmingham as a
representative of the company to oversee installation of the project and stayed
after the project was complete to begin practicing as a landscape architect.
Once referred to as the “L’Enfant of Birmingham,” Kessler planned and developed
some of Birmingham’s finest residential neighborhoods including Redmont, Forest
Park, Mountain Brook, and Central Park. He designed the grounds for some of the
finest homes in the developments of his colleague and friend Robert Jemison,
Jr., and he developed a plan for Woodrow Wilson Park (now Linn Park), the
grounds for many churches and public buildings, and the model city of Corey (now
Fairfield). The American Institute of Architects recognized Kessler’s great
achievements in planning and landscape architecture by electing him an honorary
member of the organization.
Scope and Content
collection contains personal correspondence, professional correspondence and
invoices, sketches and specifications, drawings and plans, planting lists, and
photographs of projects, residences, and other buildings and landmarks. Notable
buildings, institutions, and organizations referenced in the collection include
Brook Hill School, Birmingham Housing Authority, Birmingham Museum of Art
Memorial Garden, Birmingham Parks and Recreation Board, Birmingham Southern
College, Elmwood Cemetery, Mountain Brook Planning Commission, Oak Hill
Cemetery, and the University of Alabama. Private residences in the collection
are catalogued by street address
Jemison, Robert, Jr. Collection
Gift of Kessler Family
Aerial view of home and grounds of John Kaul residence:
3710 Redmont Road. File #68.6.32. Kessler, W.H. Papers. Birmingham Public
Library, Department of Archives and Manuscripts.
University of Alabama, General Plan for Future Development, 1925, Kessler &
Schillinger Landscape Architects. File #68.8.39. Kessler, W.H. Papers.
Birmingham Public Library, Department of Archives and Manuscripts.
Satterfield, Carolyn Green. Historic Sites of Jefferson County, Alabama.
Birmingham, Alabama: Lowry Printing, 1985. Prepared for the Jefferson County
Study for General Arrangement of Lots 199 & 199A, Redmont Park. Pencil on
tissue. File #68.8.33. Kessler, W.H. Papers. Birmingham Public Library,
Department of Archives and Manuscripts.