Want to help with the HALS Cultural Landscapes of Women Challenge?

Isaac Goodnow House – Manhattan, KS
image: Historic American Buildings Survey; Douglas McCleery, Photographer June 1958

First of all THANK YOU!  Your interest can really help focus national attention on the cultural landscapes of women this year.

Secondly, the HALS short form is easy! It’s neither as exhaustive nor as restrictive as other national historic preservation paperwork you may be familiar with. The National Park Service (NPS) has done a lot of the work for you. Just download and fill out the short form for your selected landscape. You’ll just need some information on the landscape.  If you’d like, include a plan drawing sketch (doesn’t have to be construction worthy, just a quick sketch) or rights free photos. They aren’t necessary – but both great excuses to get out to the site and exercise your hand drawing and photography skills.

Now the hard part: Selecting a Landscape for this Challenge! Where can I find a cultural landscape of or for women? We have listed below several general ideas to start your brainstorming process.

We have also included some of our own ideas from our local areas. The HALS regulations are not as strict as, say, adding a location to the National Register.  The aim is to document the American landscape both vernacular and designed. This year’s challenge could include but is not limited to landscapes designed by women, designed for women, or associated with a particular woman or women.

Start brainstorming locations in your area!

General Suggestions:

  • Landscape can be vernacular if you can describe and define the landscape that was and its importance (natural surroundings or landscapes kept by women who appreciated them are also eligible)
  • HABS/HAER document good place to start – add to HABS info for landscape or add a HALS short history for landscape of a HABS or HAER site (search the Library of Congress site to see if the location you’re considering has documentation already)
  • Locations designed by women (the women don’t need to be landscape architects and the landscapes don’t have to be perfectly preserved)
  • Locations recognizing women (the women don’t need to be landscape architects and the landscapes don’t have to be perfectly preserved)
  • Locations for or primarily for women (the women don’t need to be landscape architects and the landscapes don’t have to be perfectly preserved)
  • Community park dedicated/named after a local woman
  • Women’s clubs landscapes (whether currently used as a women’s club or not)
  • Girls schools landscapes(whether currently used as a girls school or not)
  • Teacher’s college landscapes(whether currently used as a teachers college or not)
  • Nursing school’s landscapes (whether currently used as a nursing school or not)
  • Nunnery (whether currently used as a nunnery or not)
  • National Park System sites dedicated to women – do a short history for the landscape – ie. Clara Barton NHS
  • Award winning landscapes by or for women
  • Native American landscapes for women or where women were the focus or designed or created by women
  • Landscapes for locations where women played an preeminent role: Mt. Vernon, Wellsley college, etc

If the site will be iconic, HALS documentation can help preserve the current form – ie landcapes by contemporary/modernist women designers: Carol Johnson, Martha Schwartz, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander

What the PPN officers are considering (see something you like?, contact us to join in the work!):

  • The gardens of the Governor’s house in Puerto Rico: La Fortaleza. They date from the 1930’s but have gone through several interventions throughout the different government administrations and most of these changes have been done by the First Ladies.
  • Goodnow House Museum Landscape. In addition to being an abolitionist, Ellen Goodnow was instrumental in the creation and building of Bluemont College which became Kansas State University.
  • Antigo City Park. Designed by Helen Benishek.
  • Eden Hall Farm in the Pittsburgh-area.  The farm, owned by Sebastian Mueller, was used as a retreat for the female workers of Heinz back in the first half of the 20th century.  The land was recently donated to Chatham University (the undergraduate program is women’s-only) and will be used for their new school of sustainability.

You can do the whole thing in a page or two depending on the site. It is entirely possible to submit a HALS short form for your favorite woman (or women) focused cultural landscape before the July deadline. Pledge now to begin (and possibly complete) your HALS short form during Landscape Architecture Month in April!  Make a HALS short form on a a cultural landscape of women part of your Year of Public Service!

Next: How to get the word out about your HALS short form for National Landscape Architecture month!

by Kristina Snyder, co-chair of the WILA PPN

One thought on “Want to help with the HALS Cultural Landscapes of Women Challenge?

  1. Heather Huyck November 25, 2015 / 11:34 am

    As Past President of the National Collaborative for Women’s History Sites, I’m delighted you are doing this! As half the American population we know that women affected the landscape(s) and were affected by them. Thank you for digging out our past.

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