In 1975 with a degree in landscape architecture from University of California, Berkely, Dickson DeMarche founded Dickson DeMarche Landscape Architects in Westport. Almost all of Dickson’s early clients were commercial and institutional as the company provided land use planning and site design services. Residential landscape architecture was not mainstream in Westport in 1975, and it would be another decade or so before homeowners really started to invest in the design and care of their properties.

Some of Dickson’s early clients included the Westport Library, the original Levitt Pavilion, the Darien public school system, as well as plans for two major subdivisions in cul-de-sacs off of Imperial Avenue. In the 1980’s DDLA moved the War Monument to Veteran’s Green across from the town hall, renovated a new track at Staples High School, and regraded the 2nd and 17th fairways at Longshore. They also worked with the Downtown Merchants Association to design and select specific trees to line Main Street.

Burt DeMarche joined his dad’s firm with degrees in horticulture and business. In 1993 they changed the company’s name to the LaurelRock Company to serve residential clients. Today they design, build and maintain properties, and initial concepts are still drawn by hand before being computer enhanced. It often takes three to five years for a project to grow into the full version of the design, assuming it is properly maintained. LaurelRock is an unusual family business as it was built together by father and son instead of Dickson handing it over to Burt, and it has become a model for the Center for Family Business at the University of New Haven.

To celebrate their 35 years of business LaurelRock designed and donated all materials and labor to overhaul the "Gateway Gardens" located on both sides of the Post Road as you cross the Saugatuck River Bridge to enter downtown Westport. When viewed from across the Post Road the granite columns are the lowest at the ends and tallest in the middle of the garden to mimic the form of a tower and cables on a suspension bridge. The colorful seasonal flowers, ornamental grasses and perennials which surround the stone columns provide a vibrant welcome to all who pass by. It is LaurelRock’s on-going, annual contribution to maintain and enhance the gardens as well as give back to the community to keep Westport looking beautiful.

On June 17 from 3 to 4 p.m. Come join Bob Mitchell for a historic walking tour of downtown Westport. For information contact westporthistory.org

Margaret Mazer for Westport Historical Society. Mazer can be reached at mmogdon@wpsir.com