The Blakely Family
history of the Blakely family in south Florida parallels the
land boom history of the region.
(Sam) Blakely was an estate gardener of some ability in the
Boston area when his friend Harry Kelsey decided to become
a developer in the then raw county of Palm Beach, Florida
during the late teens of the new century. Kelsey, who had
been a successful restaurateur, sold his holdings for a large
sum of money and purchased land in Florida with the idea of
making a home and designing a community of up scale residences.
He employed the firm of Olmstead and Olmstead in Brookline,
Massachusetts as his planning firm. Kelsey City became the
first master planned town in Florida. The firm's history was
legendary with Frederick Law Olmstead having been the father
of the new profession of Landscape Architecture, designing
such memorable places as Central Park, the Biltmore estate
in Asheville, North Carolina, and the Stanford University
campus in California. Harry called on his friend Sam Blakely
to come to Florida and design the parks for the new town and
set up a nursery to provide foliage for them and other public
areas of town. Sam joined his friend and began the task of
building the towns main park and setting up the City Nursery
of Kelsey City. In 1926 the nursery came under private ownership
with Sam Blakely as the president of Kelsey City Landscape
and Nurseries Company Inc.
Blakely was responsible for the landscape design and installation
of many of Palm Beach societ's lavish estates of the era,
collaborating with Addison Mizner, Maurice Fatio, and John
Volk, the most famous of the resorts architects.
Blakely followed in his father's footsteps after serving in
the United States Navy aboard the U.S.S. Core, an aircraft
carrier, where he was in charge of all flight fuel. After
the War, in the estate tradition his father had pioneered,
he added among other significant clients: Rosarian Academy,
Community Savings and Loan, and Perini Land and Development,
two of which won National Awards for landscape design. He
won the silver medal at the New York Flower Show in 1964,
and installed and coordinated the landscape of the Julimar
Farms Pavilion at the New York World's Fair. He received numerous
other awards for design excellence including, the Enid Haupt
estate in Palm Beach. Mrs. Haupt will be remembered for her
generous support of the New York Botanical Gardens. Among
many notable projects in a long career James Blakely was responsible
for the design of Montsorrel (the estate of Mrs. Robert R.
Young) and the revitalization of a local landmark, The Biltmore
Hotel conversion. He was a member of a committee which forged
the way for the approval of a practice law for landscape architects
in 1965. He received landscape architects license No. 21.
In addition to being a charter member of the Florida Nurserymen
and Growers Association (the largest of its type in the U.S.)
in 1952, he served at the chapter and state levels, being
elected and serving through the chairs of vice presidency
to become the organizations 26th state president in 1976.
In that capacity he worked with Secretary of Agriculture Bob
Burgland to gain federal assistance for nurserymen devastated
by the effects of hurricane David. Later he served on the
committee to define "Grades and Standards" for the
nursery industry. He was a member of the American Institute
of Landscape Architects, and later the American Society of
Blakely grew up working in his fathers nursery
as a young man during summers and holidays. He worked
father and grandmother at the nursery and frequently visited
the many estates on which his father was employed. He
for granted the knowledge he had gained as a youth working
with his family and decided, instead, to pursue formal
in the visual arts. He became a painter and was included
in several national exhibitions before the age of 22.
school he became a college instructor. With a growing family
he joined the family firm and with his father formed
and Associates Landscape Architects and Planners, in August
1977. The firm immediately began to broaden including
discipline of land planning, management, construction detailing
and oversight. Control of the day to day operations of
firm were his responsibility, as was the acquisition of new
clients. From 1983 to 1993 the firm was recognized with
30 awards for design excellence and inclusion in many publications
followed. Recent projects have included designs for notables
: Neiman Marcus, Bessemer Trust, Bank America, Chase Manhattan,
Mobil Land, Alcoa, The Breakers in Palm Beach, The Palm
Country Club and several high profile entertainment and business
Blakely Landscape Architect
Jeff Blakely was born in West Palm Beach, Florida the son
(and grandson) of a nurseryman and landscape architect. Mr.
Blakely attended Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville,
Georgia graduating in 1964 and subsequently worked with his
father before attending college. He graduated from Florida
Atlantic University in 1968 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree
in studio art. Wanting to pursue a college teaching career,
he taught at the secondary preparatory level before returning
to school to pursue graduate studies. He received a Master
of Science in Constructive Design degree from Florida State
University in 1971, and taught studio art at colleges in Texas
and later Florida. He was also responsible for the gallery
exhibitions and accompanying publications.
1977, Mr. Blakely and his father joined to create the firm
of Blakely and Associates, Landscape Architects and Planners,
Inc. Jeff Blakely managed this firm on a day to day basis
and was responsible for its growth into the areas of land
planning and large scale landscape architectural projects.
In 1979 he was invited to interview for a new development
in Jupiter, Florida being developed by Alcoa Properties. The
firm was subsequently offered the project (Jonathans
Landing) which would occupy the next 14 years in design and
implementation, and was responsible for dozens of awards and
innovations in multi family housing design.
1982, Mr. Blakely completed requirements for registration
as a landscape architect in the state of Florida, by Uniform
background in the visual arts and continuing practice as a
studio artist has influenced his belief in what landscape
architecture can become in practice. In conversation, Mr.
Blakely refers to the areas of painting, photography and the
crafts as "continuing sources of inspiration," pointing
out that the most successful practitioners in landscape architecture
continue to make work with a firm grounding in the language
and symbol systems of art, coupled with the concerns of landscape.
the firm continues to design at many levels of scale, Mr.
Blakelys singular interest is in producing unique solutions
for the estate residential client. He describes this work
as the most satisfying because it is, "truly collaborative"
and problem solving in nature. He says that, "I dont
have a signature style and dont want to impose my ideas
of correctness in garden design on others." He further
relates that "within a framework and sequence of design
many successful possibilities exist to solve visual problems
and heighten awareness." He believes that the landscape
architect directs the organization of form but needs to satisfy
the particular vision of those for which the garden is being
created, even if it is unfamiliar, bizarre or alien to the
sensibilities of the designer. Passion and an abiding interest
in the creation of the special nature of a place, he feels,
has to be present for a space to be memorable. He observes
that "everyone has visited or imagined a space in which
they feel belonging, security, or a desire to linger and that
they will carry with them in a collected memory." It
is the nature, character and response to those highly personal
spaces that the landscape architect must endeavor to uncover.
He continues, "it is through a process of reflection
and response in which discoveries of the kinds of places one
wishes to inhabit lead to awakening new and unique solutions.
In conclusion, he observes that, "earth was mans
first shelter" and he believes our individual response
to its continuing resonance, is the catalyst for the
invention of personal and memorable spaces.