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J. Horace McFarland

  • Sunken Garden in Riverfront Park, Front & Verbeke Streets Harrisburg, PA

J. Horace McFarland was born in McAlisterville, Juniata County in 1857. He began his career as a typesetter working with his father, who published a temperance newspaper. After the paper went out of business, McFarland began printing seed catalogs. By the turn of the century, McFarland’s experimental use of color photography in his catalogs had made him the largest producer of seed catalogs in the country and earned him nationwide recognition. His interest in horticulture broadened to include a commitment to the urban reform and budding environmental movements. McFarland led the movement to prevent the destruction of Niagara Falls’ natural beauty by New York and Canadian energy companies. In Harrisburg he partnered with Mira Lloyd Dock to promote beautification projects throughout the city. McFarland also served as the first president of the American Civic Association and used his position to promote he and Dock’s “Harrisburg Plan” through lectures and magic lantern slide shows. An advocate for the creation of the National Park Service, McFarland served on the Department of the Interior’s Educational Advisory Board and following its creation in 1916, on the National Park Trust Board. In 1909 he purchased 2.5 acres he titled “Breeze Hill” in Harrisburg where he made his home for the rest of his life. On the grounds there McFarland cultivated more than 800 varieties of roses and developed the accepted system for classifying and identifying roses.