Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive
The Wildflower Hunter
Newton Ancarrow’s family donated the Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive slide collection to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in 1992. Nearly 35,000 photos reflect his passion for capturing the beauty of plants all along the James River in what is now the James River Park System. Newton Ancarrow (1920-1991) was a boat builder who relocated his business from Scott’s Addition to the south bank of the James River in 1962. In 1965, he opened a large ramp for his business and very quickly learned of the poor water quality. Ancarrow was enraged when oily, polluted water covered his ramp and his boats. He began a crusade to force city, state, and federal authorities to clean up the James, the legacy of which we continue to enjoy today.
The Ancarrow Wildflower Digital Archive is a collaborative project of the Garden and the Virginia Commonwealth University Libraries and VCU Rice Rivers Center. The archive is hosted on VCU Libraries’ website.
Along the James
As Ancarrow prowled the banks of the James looking for raw sewage outlets, he discovered wild flowers and began learning photography and botany. He knew he could persuade people to his conservation cause by using beautiful images of flowers. He photographed all parts of the plants, and photographed them in all seasons. Ancarrow was a popular speaker on the topics of restoration and conservation of the beautiful James River. He developed Flower Show #2, with over 300 images, lengthy narrative to describe each flower, and a sound recording of his talk. The digital archive is a presentation of Flower Show #2, along with other content from the Ancarrow archive.
The Boat Builder
Before he was a wildflower hunter, Newton Ancarrow was a boat enthusiast and designer. His goal was to build luxury boats capable of reaching 60 mph. Little did he know that relocating his boat business would lead him into the role of conservationist and flower photography. Follow the trail here from speed boats to wildflowers.