The Monuments Men

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Norman Thomas Newton ( 1898-1992 )

Landscape architect Norman Newton served with the MFAA for nearly four years, from 1942 to 1943 as director of the sub-commission for the MFAA, Allied Commission in Italy, 330th Air Service Group and until 1946 with the British 8th Army. He wrote about his experiences and the state of Italian cultural property in his book, War Damage to Monuments and Fine Arts of Italy. The Italian government honored Newton for his efforts by naming him Commander of the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, Grand Officer Crown of Italy and awarding him the Star of Italian Solidarity in 1950.

Newton had previous military experience in 1918 when he served as an aviation cadet in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. The following year he was graduated from Cornell University, and then received his Masters of Landscape Design in 1920. In 1926 Newton was named a Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, where he later served as the resident landscape architect in 1967. He worked in New York City and with the National Park Service as a landscape architect for nearly 20 years before joining the faculty of Harvard in 1939. Newton remained a professor at Harvard for the rest of his career, and was named Charles Elliot Professor Emeritus in 1966. In 1971 he wrote the first comprehensive history of landscape architecture, Design on the Land: The Development of Landscape Architecture. The book includes 42 chapters and documents how landscape architecture evolved from the private gardens of the ancient world to the design of public spaces in the modern world. Newton was a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects for many decades, and served as national president from 1957 to 1961. He received the ASLA medal in 1979. Following his death in 1992, Newton’s wife Lyyli created a fund in his honor at Harvard Graduate School, which awards one exemplary graduate student every year.