Kate Sessions

A collection of document archives relating to Kate O. Sessions, horticulturist, landscaper, city gardener, and nursery and cut flower business owner in San Diego, dating from 1891-1940, from the City Clerk’s Archives, City of San Diego, CA. Miss Sessions is considered the mother of San Diego’s Balboa Park, formerly known as City Park or the Fourteen Hundred Acre Public Park; and the location of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the 1916 Panama-California International Exposition and the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition. Documents consist of those Miss Sessions personally submitted to the City of San Diego, as well as those submitted by others but referencing her. The collection features a 1891 letter by Frederick Law Olmsted (considered the father of U. S. landscape architecture) responding to Miss Sessions’ inquiry regarding the planning of City Park accompanied by her handwritten notes presenting his letter to the Common Council of the City of San Diego.

  1. PDF icon Miss Kate Sessions Letter Regarding Park Landscaping 1891.pdf
    Description: 

    Petition of Miss Kate O. Sessions noted as filed October 22, 1891 entitled ”purpose of giving views of F. L. Olmsted on parks. Comprised of a two page. handwritten note on Miss Sessions’ San Diego Nursery and Cut Flower Depot stationary in which she presents a letter from Frederick Law Olmsted, leading landscape architect of the U.S., to support her view that all experimental work that can be undertaken in San Diego will be of great value in the eventual planning of City Park. Frederick Law Olmsted’s letter. also dated October 22, 1891, is written in response to a letter from Miss Sessions dated October 14, 1891. He addresses the “suitable designing of pleasure grounds” in California, and expresses his opinion that what has been done so far is not suitable and will not endure. He suggests that in designing such an extensive and important work as planning City Park ideals derived from practice on the East Coast and in Northern Europe be abandoned; and that focus be on “originality of treatment suitable to the special local conditions.” In closing, Mr. Olmsted states that, regrettably, present engagements prevent his firm, F. L. Olmsted & Co., from designing City Park, at least for some time to come. Four pages, including title sheet.

  2. PDF icon Committee on Streets Highways and Parks Recommending Kate Sessions as City Gardener.pdf
    Description: 

    Report from the Committee on Streets, Highways & Parks recommending to the Common Council of the City of San Diego that the Board of Public Works employ Miss Kate O. Sessions as City Gardener with the privilege as asked for in her petition that she be furnished with water during the pleasure of the Council. Adopted by Delegates and Alderman on January 26, 1892. Two pages, including backside notations.

  3. PDF icon Petition from Kate Sessions for City Park Improvements.pdf
    Description: 

    Petition by Miss K. O. Sessions to the Council of the City of San Diego proposing a plan for City Park work for Council consideration. As a preface to her plan, she states that she knows of no other experimental work with plants being carried on in a public and permanent way in Southern California, other than those economic; and emphasizes that such new, interesting and striking plants will “tend to prove the wonderful possibilities of our land and location,” making San Diego better known and more accurately judged, as compared with other localities. The petition includes her proposed arrangement with the City to establish on a small portion of the City Park’s northwest corner as an experimental garden for at least 10 years where she will annually plant 100 trees, and, in addition, furnish an additional 300 crocked or boxed ornamental and shade trees to be used by the City in park, street, plaza or school ground planting. Miss Sessions would be allowed to grow on the City land additional plants and cut flowers for sale and would be granted water privileges. Her proposed plan was referred to the Committee on Parks by Delegates on January 18, 1892. Committee Report adopted by Alderman and Delegates on January 26, 1892. Five pages, including petition cover sheet and backside with notation of action taken.

  4. PDF icon Petition from Riley Morrison and S. G. Blaisdell Asking for use of City Park Lands Under the Same Terms as Kate Sessions.pdf
    Description: 

    On stationary from the Office of the City Attorney dated February 1, 1892, a petition by Riley R. Morrison and S. G. Blaisdell {sic} to the Board of City Council of the City of San Diego asking for use of lands in the City Park for the purpose of experimenting in growing trees and flowers under the same terms and restrictions for ten years, as granted Miss K. O. Sessions. Includes attached sketch showing land in City Park applied for by Morrison and Blaisdell. Three pages, including Petition cover sheet and sketch.

  5. PDF icon Ordinance 153 Granting Permission to Kate Sessions to Use Certain Lands in City Park.pdf
    Description: 

    City of San Diego Ordinance No. 153 granting permission to K. O. Sessions the right to use certain lands in City Park for use as an “Experimental Nursery” dated February 9, 1892. Details agreement between the City of San Diego and Miss Sessions concerning her water privileges, duration of right to use land, location of land, restrictions as to use of land, requirement to plant and care for 100 trees annually for the City; and, in addition, to furnish annually 300 ornamental trees in crocks or boxes; expenses regarding fencing and piping, public access, city driveways, roads and boulevards through land, rights to remove plants and improvements in the event of ordinance’s repeal, and right to sell plants and flowers. Passed, approved and adopted by the Board of Delegates of the City of San Diego on February 8, 1892, and signed in open session b the President, H. H. Williams, on February 15, 1892. Passed, approved and adopted by the Board of Aldermen, February 9, 1892, and signed in open session by President, Simon Levi. Approved February 16, 1892 by the Mayor of San Diego, Matthew Sherman. Seven pages, including cover sheet.

  6. PDF icon Kate Sessions Invitation to Board of Delegates.pdf
    Description: 

    Handwritten note by K. O. Sessions dated October 25, 1892 on her own San Diego Nursery and Cut Flower Depot (Corner of Fifth and G Street) stationary, to the President and members of the Board of Alderman, City of San Diego; inviting them, their families and friends to her nursery on the Park for the first viewing of her blooming Chrysanthemums on October 27, 1892. Invitation accepted October 24, 1892, noted on back. Two pages, including back.

  7. PDF icon Kate Sessions Report on City Park Trees.pdf
    Description: 

    Kate O. Sessions Annual Report for 1893 for Northwest corner of City Park, including a list of 100 trees and palms permanently planted for the City Of San Diego as agreed, dated January 29, 1894 and signed by Miss Sessions. Submitted in accordance with Ordinance No 153. Four pages, including backside notation, title and filing date. Note: Water damaged, translation attached. Six pages, including back and interpretation.

  8. PDF icon Petition from Kate Sessions Requesting to Construct a Sewer and Connect to City Sewer System.pdf
    Description: 

    Petition of K. O. Sessions dated April 1899 requesting permission to construct a sewer and connect to City of San Diego sewer system. Box 35 Folder 1

  9. PDF icon Joint Resolution Granting Permission to Kate Sessions to Erect Wooden Building and Cut Flower Depot.pdf
    Description: 

    Unnumbered Joint Resolution, undated but probably 1892-1894 given placement in file, granting permission to Miss Sessions to erect a wooden, 10X27 feet building adjoining the north side of a glass house at her nursery and cut flower depot on Lot G, Block 17 of Horton’s Addition, downtown (“New Town”). Two pages, including backside.

  10. PDF icon Board of Public Works Regarding the Beautification of the City Park.pdf
    Description: 

    Letter to Common Council of the City of San Diego from Board of Public Works, signed by Board Secretary, F. H. Dixon, dated November 29. 1901, regarding the Superintendent of Parks recommendations on beautification and cultivation of the southwest portion of City Park. Reference made to Miss Sessions agreeing to provide, at no extra expense, the trees and shrubbery for the improvement of the 400 square foot area at the northeast corner of Sixth and Date Streets. One page (check green backing for second page).

  11. PDF icon Petition from Kate Sessions Requesting to Erect a Tent with Glass Front.pdf
    Description: 

    Petition of Kate O. Sessions dated July 12,1904 to the City of San Diego requesting permission to erect a tent with glass front on Lot E of Block 18 of Horton’s Addition within fire limits, to be used for her florist’s store and to be temporary until prospective buildings within a block of the site are erected. Her petition includes the support and signatures of the neighboring property owners; among them, George W. Marston by his agent, Unity Hall President and the Unitarians Society. City Council granted her request on July 18, 1904.

  12. PDF icon Public Works Board Recommending Purchase of Water Pipe System from Kate Sessions.pdf
    Description: 

    Communication from Board of Public Works dated September 22, 1904 from F. H. Dixon, Board of Public Works to Common Council, City of San Diego, recommending the purchase of a water pipe system laid in the ten acres of land leased by Kate O. Sessions in the northwest corner of City Park. In support of its recommendation, the Board transmits for consideration a petition by George W. Marston of the Park Committee. The cited Park Committee petition requests that the Board purchase the water system which is installed over nearly all of the ten acres, because Miss Sessions is offering it at a very good price of $125 and because the Park Committee would like to continue to care for the many trees and shrubs that are being left by Miss Sessions in surrendering her lease. The Board of Public Works further supports its recommendation by citing the Superintendent of the Water Department's opinion that the irrigation system is very cheap at the price offered. Referred to Water Committee by Council on September 26, 1904; Water Committee recommends on October 24, 1904 that the water pipe system be purchased from Miss Sessions provided the expense does not exceed $125. Report adopted by Council on October 31, 1904. Two pages, including cover.

  13. PDF icon A Witnessed Grant from Kate Sessions to the City of San Diego.pdf
    Description: 

    Signed January 28, 1905, a witnessed grant by Miss K. O. to the City of San Diego and in consideration of $125, all water pipe and connections laid in the ten acre-tract of land at the northwest corner of the Fourteen Hundred-acre Public Park (“City Park”) heretofore occupied and used by Miss Sessions. Cover sheet marked “Received at Request of H. E. Doolittle, City Attorney, on February 3, 1905. Two pages, including cover sheet.

  14. PDF icon Permit Request from Kate Sessions to Grade Portion of Hooker Street 1910.pdf
    Description: 

    Petition dated June 28, 1910 by K. O. Sessions for permission to grade, by private contract, Hooker Street from Lewis to Broadway Streets in the Arnold & Choates Addition near Mission Hills, San Diego (Blocks 39 & 40, 300’ each.) Recommended by Committee of the Whole on July 6, 1910; Petition granted by Council on July 7, 1910. Two pages, including backside.

  15. PDF icon Petition of Kate Sessions Requesting 60 More Days to Grade Hooker Street 1911.pdf
    Description: 

    Petition dated January 26, 1911 by Kate Sessions requesting 60 more days to grade Hooker Street between the north line of Lewis street and the south line of Broadway by private contract, because of delays in establishing said grade and the wait for the grading of Broadway Street. Petition granted January 30, 1911. Two pages, including backside.

  16. PDF icon Grant_Deed by Kate Sessions and Dorothea Sandford to the City of San Diego 1912.pdf
    Description: 

    Grant Deed by Kate O. Sessions and Dorothea Sandford to the City of San Diego , certain property on Stockton and Stephens Streets in Mission Hills, San Diego, for street purposes only, as a part of Stephens Street, and for $1 consideration. Witnessed June 19, 1912; filed July 22, 1912 and recorded July 23, 1912. Three pages, including witness statements.

  17. PDF icon City Attorney Regarding the Deed of Kate Sessions and Dorothea Sanford 1912.pdf
    Description: 

    Communication from City Attorney dated July 20, 1912 by Deputy City Attorney, M. R. Thorp for W. R. Andrews, City Attorney, regarding the deed of Kate O. Sessions and Dorothea Sandford to the City of San Diego. conveying a right of way to certain property as an extension of Stephens Street in Mission Hills. Mr. Thorp states that all aspects of the grant deed have been properly executed and therefore recommends acceptance by ordinance accompanying his letter (missing). Presented to Common Council and ordered filed July 22, 1912. Two pages, included cover sheet.

  18. PDF icon Communication_from_Frank_Sessions_Regarding_Exchange_of_Flower_Pots_for_Trees 1919.pdf
    Description: 

    Communication dated August 5, 1919 to City Council of the City of San Diego from Frank Sessions (Kate O. Sessions’ brother), Acting Superintendent of the City Farm (also known as the Pueblo Farm north of La Jolla) requesting an exchange for $50 of the farm’s second hand flower pots, which are not in use, for fruit trees to be delivered this winter by K. O. Sessions. Post script identifies 1,000 6”, 2,000 5”, 1,000 4” and 750 3” pots. Filed August 6, 1919. Referred by Council to Councilman Wentzel on August 6, 1919; Presented to Common Council and ordered filed September 10, 1919. Two pages, including cover sheet.

  19. PDF icon City Clerk to Forwarding City Council Request Resolution Number 71104.pdf
    Description: 

    Letter dated April 4, 1940 to Mr. Milton P. Sessions from Fred W. Sick, City Clerk of the City of San Diego forwarding pursuant to the City Council’s request Resolution No. 71104, adopted April 2, 1940, honoring the memory of Miss Kate O. Sessions, his aunt. Letter does not contain copies of Resolution 71104. One page.

  20. PDF icon Clipping from San Diego Union Article Tributes Voiced for Kate Sessions San Diego Leaders Named Pallbearers 1940.pdf
    Description: 

    Clipping from San Diego Union article, “Tributes Voiced for Kate Sessions; S.D. Leaders Named Pallbearers,” dated Tuesday, March 26, 1940, featuring the last photograph made of San Diego famed horticulturist, Kate Sessions. Miss Sessions, age 83, died in her sleep on Sunday, March 24, 1940, at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. She had been confined to the hospital since she fractured her hip in September from a fall in her garden at her Pacific Beach home. Several lifelong friends, San Diego leaders, and associates were named as honorary pallbearers, including George Marston, Julius Wangenheim, M.C. Pfefferkorn, Fred Rhodes, Matt Heller, Senator Ed Fletcher and Hugh Evans. Rites to be held at Bradley-Woolman chapel Thursday, March 28, 1940; cremation to follow. Two pages.

  21. PDF icon Kate Sessions Resolution Number 71104 1940.pdf
    Description: 

    Resolution No. 71104, City of San Diego honoring the memory of the late Kate Sessions who “contributed most in establishing the horticultural beauty of our city.” Passed and adopted April 2, 1940.