by Scott Keyes
The National Park Service and ASLA are pleased to congratulate the winners of the 14th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge competition. This year’s winners were officially announced at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture on Sunday, October 29, 2023.
Administered by the National Park Service, in collaboration with the ASLA and Library of Congress, the HALS Challenge competition encourages landscape architects, students, and other interested parties to document historic landscapes in their communities. To enter the competition, participants must complete a historical report that highlights the history, significance, and character-defining features of the surveyed landscape. This report can be supplemented with measured drawings or large-format photographs. All competition entries are archived in the HALS collection at the Library of Congress where they contribute to the nation’s largest repository of documentation on American architecture, engineering, and landscapes.
This year’s competition focused on working landscapes. Participants were challenged to survey working or productive landscapes with entries ranging from agricultural and industrial sites to public infrastructure and transportation networks. The competition resulted in the donation of 13 impressive surveys to the HALS collection. A jury composed of National Park Service historians and landscape architects reviewed the entries and selected the following winners:
First Place: Tangier Island Watermen Working Landscape, HALS VA-88
Tangier, Accomack County, Virginia
By Lincoln L. Lewis and William A. Packwood, University of Virginia
Tangier is an island community in the Chesapeake Bay. The local blue crab fishery is the town’s main economic driver. HALS documentation of this landscape focused not only on the distinctive history and features of Tangier, but also on the waterman culture that has developed over centuries in this unique environment. This historic landscape, however, is at risk of disappearing due to a range of challenges brought about by cultural and environmental change. In addition to the extensively researched historical report, the survey included a full set of measured drawings.
Second Place: Foster City Levees, HALS CA-173
Foster City, San Mateo County, California
By Andrea Gaffney, based on original research and analysis prepared by Vicki Beard
The Foster City levee system permitted the development of Foster City, the first new town community to be planned, constructed, and incorporated along the San Francisco Bay. The HALS survey highlighted the levees’ integral role to the creation of Foster City and documented how the system has been modified to address issues of sea level rise related to climate change. The survey also includes a set of large-format film photographs.
Third Place: Weeden Farm, HALS RI-4
South Kingston, Washington County, Rhode Island
By Elena Pascarella, RLA, ASLA
Weeden Farm has been a working farm since 1826. The property’s farmhouse, Willow Dell, which was built in 1752, is still owned by a descendant of Wager Weeden, the farm’s founder. The HALS documentation provides a thorough survey of the farm’s features and history.
Honorable Mention: Ritchie Farm, HALS NC-11
Mt. Pleasant, Cabarrus County, North Carolina
By William Lutrick, ASLA, and David Driapsa, FASLA
The Jacob Ritchie farm is a remaining vestige of the Dutch Buffalo Creek German Lutheran Community, an early European settlement of Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Jacob Ritchie established the farm in 1764. Today the landscape contains vestiges of eight generations of the Ritchie family that farmed it for over three centuries. The HALS documentation also includes a set of large-format film photographs of the property and its remaining structures.
In addition to these winners, the competition received 9 other outstanding entries (listed alphabetical by state):
- Lone Pine Mine (AL-8); Birmingham, Alabama; by Casey Gamble, Museum Programs Manager, Vulcan Park & Museum
- Pancho Family Farm (AZ-30); Vamori Valley, Tohono O’odham Nation, Pima County, Arizona; by Terrol Dew Johnson and Aranda Lasch
- Seminole Lodge (FL-34); Fort Myers, Florida; by David J Driapsa, FASLA
- Midway Plaisance (IL-17); Chicago, Illinois; by Sol Sherer-Estevez, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- School Gardens of Indiana (IN-17); Wayne, Carrol, and St. Joseph Counties, Indiana; by Brianna Minnich and Dorna Eshrati, PhD, Affil. ASLA
- Ambrose Channel (NY-18); multiple counties in New Jersey and New York; by Laurel McSherry, ASLA
- Mission San Juan (TX-14); San Antonio, Texas; by Jacoby Gonzales, ASLA
- Mad River Glen (VT-12); Chittenden and Washington Counties, Vermont; by Gail Henderson-King, ASLA, RLA
- Bush Prairie Farm (WA-8); Thurston County, Washington; by Clara Cheeves and Duane Dietz, ASLA
For more about the HALS Challenge and HALS program, see the video recorded for the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture:
The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 as a federal program to document historic landscapes throughout the United States. Documentation, consisting of drawings, photographs, and historical reports, is archived in the Library of Congress where it is available to the public copyright free. Like its companion programs, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) and the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER), HALS documentation is used by a variety of constituents to study and preserve our nation’s significant cultural landscapes.
The National Park Service administers HALS and develops uniform guidelines for recording landscapes, the ASLA provides professional guidance and technical advice for the program through its Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network, and the Library of Congress preserves HALS documentation and makes records available to the public.
HALS is continuing the HALS Challenge in 2024 with an open competition. The National Park Service thereby invites all landscape architects, historians, students, and other interested parties to document any landscape that you feel would make a good addition to the HALS collection. Historic landscapes encompass a vast array of diverse property types and places, from formal gardens, parks, and public spaces to traditional cultural places, vernacular communities, and residential districts. We look forward to seeing what historic landscapes the participants select and document!
To enter the competition, please submit a short format historical report to the HALS program no later than July 31, 2024 (c/o Scott Keyes, Scott_Keyes@nps.gov). Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three submissions and the results will be announced at the ASLA 2024 Conference on Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. To download the historical report template and learn more about the competition, please visit the program website.
Scott Keyes is the Chief of the Heritage Documentation Programs and acting Chief of the Historic American Landscapes Survey at the National Park Service.