The Rhode Island Landscape Survey: An Overview

by Elena M. Pascarella, RLA, ASLA, and Jennifer Robinson

Kingscote
Richard Upjohn’s perspectival illustration of Kingscote, circa 1840. / image: Avery Architectural Library, Columbia University. NYDA.1000.011.00761.

In October 2017 Brent Runyon, Executive Director of the Providence Preservation Society, assembled an ad hoc committee representing various historic organizations and groups in Rhode Island. The committee was comprised of:

  • Brent Runyon, Executive Director, Providence Preservation Society
  • Rachel Robinson, Director of Preservation, Providence Preservation Society
  • Jim Donahue, Curator of Historic Landscapes & Horticulture, The Preservation Society of Newport County
  • Kaity Ryan, Deputy Chief of Staff, The Preservation Society of Newport County
  • Elena Pascarella, RLA, ASLA, Landscape Architect and Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Liaison for the Rhode Island Chapter of ASLA
  • Karen Jessup, PhD, Landscape Architectural Historian and former professor at Roger Williams University, Bristol, RI

The purpose of this committee was to develop ideas for initiating a new survey of Rhode Island landscapes. The most recent survey of Rhode Island landscapes was Historic Landscapes of Rhode Island, compiled in the 1990s and published in 2001 by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission.

Given recent demands for developing open spaces, particularly in the Rhode Island cities of Providence and Newport, the committee felt an updated survey of significant landscapes was warranted.

The purpose of such a survey or inventory would be educational, helping owners or stewards of significant historic open spaces and landscapes to understand their properties and to apply appropriate maintenance and improvement schemes. Endangered landscapes could be identified, and potentially result in Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) documentation. The survey would be initially focused on Newport and Providence to establish a template from which other community surveys could be developed at a future time. Larger initiatives may also result, including:

  • An Historic Landscape Trail (working with RI tourism)
  • A statewide What’s Out There®-type public program similar to that of The Cultural Landscape Foundation

In 2018, Ms. Jennifer Robinson was awarded an Historic Landscapes Research Fellowship by The Preservation Society of Newport County. Her project represents the Society’s first collaborative fellowship with the Providence Preservation Society. I interviewed Ms. Robinson at the new visitor center at The Breakers mansion in Newport, RI.

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Proposed Rule Changes to National Register Nominations

by Helen Erickson, Associate ASLA

Moore Square in Raleigh
ASLA 2013 Professional Analysis and Planning Honor Award. Elevated Ground: A 300 Year Vision for a 220-Year-Old Square, Raleigh, NC. Christopher Counts Studio. / image: Christopher Counts Studio

At the beginning of March, the Federal Register announced that the Department of the Interior is proposing changes to the rules that govern the nomination of properties to the National Register of Historic Places. While the changes claim to “implement the 2016 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act,” they reach far beyond the intent of that legislation in limiting the existing public process and other safeguards for historic landscapes.

Three aspects of the proposed rules are of special concern:

  • It would give more weight to the objections of larger property owners over the weight of a simple majority of property owners in objecting to listing historic districts. This would in turn have an unfair negative impact on those owners of smaller historic properties who would not be eligible for the historic property tax advantage.
  • It would give Federal agencies unilateral control in determining what properties are eligible for the National Register by eliminating the role of the Keeper of the National Register in Section 106 consultations.
  • It would permit a Federal agency to eliminate consultation with State Historic Preservation Offices and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices if so desired.

These changes will negatively impact landscape professionals who work in the area of historic preservation.

More detailed information on the proposed rule changes has been shared by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and The Cultural Landscape Foundation.

Public comments on these proposed rule changes can be submitted until April 30, 2019, 11:59 PM ET.

Helen Erickson, ASLA, is a member of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Subcommittee of ASLA’s Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN).

Taking Action to Defend Historic Landscapes – McKinley Park Case Study

by Douglas Nelson, ASLA, LEED AP

Rose Garden
McKinley Park Rose Garden / image: Douglas Nelson

Historic parks and landscapes are regularly viewed as opportunities for one good development idea or another. As landscape architects we must defend historic landscapes. The first step is to ensure that they are recognized as historic by their managing public agencies. We will look at a current threat facing McKinley Park in Sacramento. It is California’s second oldest urban park and is under threat by the city that is supposed to be its steward.

Is that an old, tired landscape in need of redevelopment, or is that a cultural landscape with historic significance? That would seem to be a simple question, but, as is too often the case, parks, often historic parks, are seen by some as open land waiting for a good idea. Think of the Metropolitan Museum in New York’s Central Park, or the proposed Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park. While these may be worthwhile institutions, using valuable and historic park lands may not be the best way to manage parks.

In Sacramento, California, historic McKinley Park was selected as the best location, not for a cultural institution, but for a sewage holding tank that is more than an acre in area and 40 feet deep. Sacramento is one of only two cities in California that has a combined stormwater and sewage system. That means heavy rains can overload the system and flood, with sewage, various neighborhoods including those around McKinley Park. No doubt this is an important infrastructure project, but why in the park? While the city gave many technical reasons, in reality it came down to being the easiest and cheapest solution. But to do this, the city turned a blind eye to the fact that this park, the city’s oldest, is an important historic resource. At a minimum, the city should have recognized it as such.

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Expanding America’s Diverse History Inside the Sierra Summit Tunnels

by Terry Guen, FASLA, Advisory Council for Historic Preservation, Member & Landscape Architect Expert

Summit Tunnels 5 and 6, near Donner Pass, Tahoe National Forest, CA
Summit Tunnels 5 and 6, near Donner Pass, Tahoe National Forest, CA / image: TK Gong, 1882 Project

Running in near darkness towards the proverbial light, we did not expect this impromptu jog through Summit Tunnel to be life changing. In early November 2018, I joined a two-day historic preservation field trip, organized by the 1882 Project, United States Department of Agriculture, United States Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, and the Bureau of Land Management, to visit Chinese Railroad Worker Sites in California’s Tahoe National Forest. Arriving by luxury bus, it was hard to imagine 152 years prior, over 10,000 Chinese workers lived year-round in encampments, exposed to the elements, and surviving ten-foot-deep snows.

View of Tunnel #6 opening, near Donner Pass, Tahoe National Forest, CA
View of Tunnel #6 opening, near Donner Pass, Tahoe National Forest, CA / image: TK Gong, 1882 Project

Entering the west portal’s graffiti-laden face, we found the third-of-a-mile long tunnels #5 and #6, carved through the hard granite peak. Passing below the vertical tunnel shaft, our footsteps resounded. The tunnel excavation had started from above; granite spoils were hauled out by bucket at a rate of one foot per day until the tunnel floor where we stood was reached. Continuing to blast by hand, workers mined “day and night in three shifts of eight hours each,” from the portals inwards and center shaft outwards (Tunnels of the Pacific Railroad, 1870). After 18 months the Chinese rail workers broke through, accomplishing what many said could not be done. The total of six tunnels constructed within a two-mile stretch breached the Sierra mountains at an elevation of 6,690 feet, laying the 2% railbed, driving eastward to Promontory Summit, Utah, and the connection of the Transcontinental Railroad.

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PPN Interview: Central Park Conservancy

by Jonathan Ceci, ASLA

Historic Preservation PPN Officer Jonathan Ceci, ASLA, facilitates an interview and Q&A with Christopher Nolan, FASLA, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Landscape Architect, Central Park Conservancy, and Lane Addonizio, Affil. ASLA, AICP, Vice President for Planning, Central Park Conservancy. / image: Alexandra Hay

At the ASLA 2018 Annual Meeting and EXPO, members of the Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN) were treated to an interview with Lane Addonizio, Affil. ASLA, and Chris Nolan, FASLA, of the Central Park Conservancy. The two shared experiences from their decades-long stewardship of America’s First Park, a calling that often involves negotiating a delicate balance between preservation and change.

Two days prior, I had attended their session on the challenges and rewards of improving accessibility in Central Park, Thinking Inclusive: Strategies and Perspectives on Accessibility from Central Park’s Experience. I found it one of the more inspiring sessions of the conference because Chris and Lane tied the matter of access back to the Park founders’ democratic vision. Lane shared this quote from The Third Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park (January 1860):

The primary purpose of the Park is to provide the best practicable means of healthful recreation, for the inhabitants of the city, of all classes. It should have an aspect of spaciousness and tranquility, with variety and intricacy of arrangement, thereby affording the most agreeable contrast to the confinement, bustle, and monotonous street-division of the city…The Park is intended to furnish healthful recreation for the poor and the rich, the young and the old, the vicious and the virtuous, so far as each can partake therein without infringing upon the rights of others, and no further.

In their interview during the PPN meeting, Chris and Lane referred back to this founding mission and explained that restrained adaptation has always been essential to fulfilling the Park’s historic mission of remaining broadly accessible to the public.

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The 2019 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Left to right: HABS LA-1319-26; HABS GA,123-AUG,56–1; HABS ARIZ,10-TUCSO,30–1; and HALS MD-1-19 / image: National Park Service 2019 HALS Challenge Banner

For the tenth annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey invites you to document historic streetscapes. Many cities have come to appreciate the cultural and commercial value of their historic streets. Disneyland and Walt Disney World have welcomed arriving visitors with an idealized, nostalgic representation of Main Street U.S.A. since their inception. Main Street programs across the nation have encouraged the revitalization of commercial historic districts, and now the Complete Streets movement is sweeping the design world.

What makes your favorite historic street(s) unique? Does your local Historic Preservation Commission protect the streetscape characteristics and features of historic districts along with the contributing buildings? You may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by documenting historic streetscapes for HALS and illuminating these significant pieces of America’s circulatory system.

Please choose an individual street or a contiguous network or grid of streets to document and pay particular attention to the landscape features, including: benches, bollards, bus stops, circles, context, crosswalks, curbing, drainage, facades, fencing, festivals, fountains, gutters, islands, lampposts, medians, meters, monuments, paving, pedestrian malls, parades, parking, planters, plazas, porches, public art, ramps, setbacks, sidewalks, signage, significance, squares, steps, stoops, street trees, traffic lights, trolley tracks, and utilities.

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The 2018 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge Results

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Golden Gate Park, Heroes’ Grove and Gold Star Mothers’ Memorial Boulder, HALS CA-49-B, San Francisco, California / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Results of the ninth annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War, were announced at the HALS Meeting in Philadelphia during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO on Saturday, October 20, 2018. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top three submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 17 impressive HALS short format historical reports and a few measured drawings and large format photographs to the HALS collection. This competition marks the 100th Anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, on November 11, 1918.

2018 HALS Challenge: Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War
Sponsored by HALS-National Park Service

First Place: Golden Gate Park, Heroes’ Grove and Gold Star Mothers’ Memorial Boulder, HALS CA-49-B
San Francisco, San Francisco County, California
by Cate Bainton with large format photographs by Les Tabata and Cate Bainton

Second Place: American Academy in Rome, Thrasher-Ward Memorial, HALS US-10-A
Rome, Italy (Please check with the NPS HALS Office before documenting foreign sites to make sure they meet the criteria to be considered a Historic American Landscape.)
by James O’Day, ASLA

Third Place: Monument Terrace, HALS VA-79
Lynchburg, Campbell County, Virginia
by Laura Knott, ASLA, RLA, MSHP

Honorable Mention: Liberty Row, HALS OH-13
Passing through Cleveland, Cleveland Heights, and Shaker Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio
by P. Jeffrey Knopp, ASLA

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Effective Conservation in a Changing World

A view from Crissy Field in the Presidio / image: Alexandra Hay

2018 US/ICOMOS Symposium
November 13-14, 2018
The Presidio, San Francisco, California

Join thought leaders from the U.S. and around the globe in advancing the connections between cultural and natural heritage for more sustainable conservation. This symposium, Forward Together: A Culture-Nature Journey Towards More Effective Conservation in a Changing World, builds on the recognition that integration of cultural and natural heritage conservation and stewardship across professional boundaries and disciplines is essential to improving conservation outcomes.

The symposium kicks off a week of conference activities in San Francisco, in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

ASLA members participating in the US/ICOMOS Symposium and PastForward include:

Welcome from symposium partners
Michael Boland, ASLA
, Chief of Park Development and Visitor Engagement, Presidio Trust

Re-envisioning the Cultural Landscape Report: Straddling the Nature/Culture Divide at Pecos National Historical Park
Theme: Taking a landscape approach to integrating nature and culture
Robert Melnick, FASLA
, Senior Cultural Resource Specialist, MIG, Inc.

Protecting Mendocino Woodlands: Lessons from a Landscape of Natural and Cultural Significance
Theme: Linking resilience, sustainable heritage and community livelihoods
Laurie Matthews, ASLA, Director of Preservation Planning + Design, MIG, Inc. (presented by Robert Melnick, FASLA)

Identifying Tangible and Intangible Cultural Relationships in a Rapidly Changing Region of Turkey
Theme: Stewardship of biocultural landscapes in the 21st century: the role of traditional knowledge and practices
Terry Clements, FASLA, Professor and Program Chair, Virginia Tech Landscape Architecture Program

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Collaboration with Indigenous Communities to Inform Design for Significant Landscapes

by Brenda Williams, ASLA

Randy Teboe, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) of the Ponca Tribe of Iowa, on site at Xe’ (Blood Run National Historic Landmark, for which Quinn Evans Architects' cultural landscape master plan won a 2018 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Analysis and Planning) with Dale Henning, archeologist, and project landscape architects Stephanie Austin, ASLA, and Brenda Williams, ASLA. / image: Dan Williams, ASLA
Randy Teboe, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) of the Ponca Tribe of Iowa, on site at Xe’ (Blood Run National Historic Landmark, for which Quinn Evans Architects’ cultural landscape master plan won a 2018 ASLA Professional Honor Award in Analysis and Planning) with Dale Henning, archeologist, and project landscape architects Stephanie Austin, ASLA, and Brenda Williams, ASLA. / image: Dan Williams, ASLA

Over the last few years, my team has had the opportunity to focus on several landscapes that are deeply significant to Indigenous communities. This work has involved integrating knowledge of Indigenous communities in planning and design projects. Through efforts to incorporate the perspectives of Indigenous groups, we are learning to step outside mainstream cultural views to enhance placemaking.

Several projects have been greatly enriched through collaborating with individuals and communities whose knowledge of the landscapes span ecological, cultural, and spiritual significance. The resulting planning and design solutions are embedded with aspects that support meaningful cultural connections while also providing opportunities for improved education of the general public about American Indian cultures today and in the past.

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Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War

District of Columbia War Memorial / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS DC-857-5
District of Columbia War Memorial / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS DC-857-5

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Since 2010, landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts have been challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to increase awareness of particular cultural landscapes through the annual HALS Challenge competition. The deadline to enter this year’s HALS Challenge—Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War—is July 31, 2018.

We invite you to document a World War I memorial site to honor the centennial of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. Not only were traditional monuments constructed across the country following the armistice, but “living memorials,” which honored the dead with schools, libraries, bridges, parks, and other public infrastructure, were designed to be both useful and symbolic at the same time.

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Montecito Wildfire and Mudslide Damaged Lovelace Garden to be Restored

by Chris Pattillo, FASLA

Harold S. Gladwin Residence (Jon B. and Lillian Lovelace Residence), Montecito, CA (HALS CA-129) / image: Stephen Schafer © 2017 schafphoto.com

Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Documents to Be Used to Restore Garden

The 2017 fire season in drought-stressed California ravaged whole residential neighborhoods in Napa and Sonoma Counties in Northern California and devastated Santa Barbara County in Southern California. A few months later the damage was compounded in Southern California when heavy rains triggered massive mudslides, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the country—Montecito. As I watched the news on the evening broadcast I feared what might be happening at the Lovelace estate where my firm, PGAdesign, had recently completed HALS documentation of Isabelle Greene’s landscape masterpiece. As it turned out I had to wait several days even to find out, as the area of devastation and evacuees was policed and firmly cordoned off. Finally, crews were allowed in to begin mud and debris clearing there, and in the surrounding neighborhoods.

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The Thrasher-Ward Memorial at the American Academy in Rome, an Historic American Landscape

by James O’Day, ASLA

Dedication Ceremony, Thrasher-Ward Memorial, 1925, American Academy in Rome, Italy / image: Photo Archive, American Academy in Rome, photographer unknown, used with permission
Dedication Ceremony, Thrasher-Ward Memorial, 1925, American Academy in Rome, Italy / image: Photo Archive, American Academy in Rome, photographer unknown, used with permission

Since 2010, landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts from every state have been challenged to complete at least one Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) short format history to increase awareness of particular cultural landscapes. The 2018 HALS Challenge theme is Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War. The submission deadline is July 31, 2018.

The First World War had a profound effect on the American Academy in Rome, and the Thrasher-Ward Memorial bears witness to its impact upon the institution and its Fellows. Europe was already immersed in the conflict when the academy held a dedication ceremony on October 1, 1914 for its new home on the Janiculum Hill. Despite the dire circumstances and the Trustees’ concerns, the academy remained open even after Italy joined the conflagration in the spring of 1915. Eventually, the Fellowships were upended when America entered the war in the spring of 1917. The academy was closed, the Fellows were dispersed, and its buildings were repurposed to serve the Italian Red Cross.

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The 2018 HALS Challenge

World War I Monument, Memorial Square, Providence, Providence County, Rhode Island (HABS RI-387) / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS RI-387

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

The 2018 HALS Challenge theme will be Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War. For the 9th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document a World War I memorial site to honor the centennial of the end of World War I, the war to end all wars. Not only were traditional monuments constructed across the country following the armistice, but “living memorials,” which honored the dead with schools, libraries, bridges, parks, and other public infrastructure, were designed to be both useful and symbolic at the same time.

For some inspiration you may browse the World War I Memorial Inventory Project and the National WWI Museum and Memorial Centennial Commemoration website. Also check out some of the WWI Sites in the HABS/HAER/HALS Collection, including:

Flanders Field American Cemetery & Memorial, HALS US-7, HALS US-7-A, HALS US-7-B

Pershing Park, HABS DC-695

District of Columbia War Memorial, HABS DC-857

World War I Monument, Memorial Square, HABS RI-387

Liberty Memorial, HABS MO-1936

Public Square (Buildings), North Walnut, HABS IL-252

Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Memorial Bridge, HAER PA-456

Fitzsimons General Hospital, Memorial Tablet, HABS CO-172-CB

Liberty Memorial Bridge, HAER ND-7

Greene Street Historic District, HABS GA-269

Perhaps you know of another monument, park, or public institution that is unrecognized. These sites are in all areas of the country, often hidden in plain sight. We challenge you to find them and document them.

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The 2017 HALS Challenge Winners

Lee Park (HALS VA-78). The bronze statue of General Robert E. Lee serves as the centerpiece of Emancipation Park in downtown Charlottesville, Virginia. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS VA-78

The results of the 8th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Documenting City or Town Parks, were announced at the HALS Meeting of the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO on Saturday, October 21, 2017 in Los Angeles. Congratulations to the winners!

1st Place: Lee Park (Emancipation Park), HALS VA-78
Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Virginia
By Liz Sargent, FASLA, Liz Sargent HLA, and Jennifer Trompetter, Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

2nd Place: McKinley Park, HALS CA-133
Sacramento, Sacramento County, California
By Douglas Nelson, ASLA, RHAA Landscape Architects

3rd Place: Enright Park, HALS PA-31
Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania
By Angelique Bamberg

Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 27 impressive HALS short format historical reports from 15 states to the HALS collection. The list is below. This year’s theme was selected in keeping with the 2016 National Park Service Centennial and the FIND YOUR PARK campaign. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks! It’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever. Again, Landscape Architecture Magazine graciously provided full page ads for the 2017 HALS Challenge in the April and May issues.

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HALS Documentation: An Unexpected Discovery

Examining the stone abutments under the Japanese House on Mallard Island, 2017. / image: David Driapsa and Deborah Dietrich-Smith

During the summers of 2016 and 2017, preservation professionals took up residence on Mallard Island in northern Minnesota to document its cultural landscape. David Driapsa, FASLA, brought these groups together after first visiting the island in 2010, and subsequently preparing a Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS MN-06) of the island and submitting it to the Library of Congress.

The island was the home of Ernest C. Oberholtzer for a half century. Ober, as he was known, was an early student of landscape architecture at Harvard under the tutelage of Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and James Sturgis Pray, where he became captivated with wilderness planning. As a young man, he moved from Davenport, Iowa, to Rainy Lake, Minnesota, a large lake along the international border with Ontario, Canada, to conduct an ethnological study of the Ojibwe Indians. In his exploration of the international boundary wilderness, Ober recognized the Ojibwe as a natural part of that wilderness, and saw that both this ancient culture and the wilderness were vanishing from North America. Ober devoted the rest of his life to leading the battle to preserve the international boundary wilderness. His fight to preserve the wilderness is very interesting and has been written about by others, such as by Joe Paddock in his book Keeper of the Wild. However, there are still interesting aspects of his life story that remain untold.

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Documenting City and Town Parks

Tower Grove Park, Sailboat Pond, View looking north between balustrades, Saint Louis, MO / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HABS MO,96-SALU,46H–2

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Since 2010, landscape architecture preservation enthusiasts from every state have been challenged to complete at least one HALS short format history to increase awareness of particular cultural landscapes through the annual HALS Challenge competition. The deadline to enter this year’s HALS Challenge, Documenting City or Town Park(s), is July 31, 2017.

This year’s theme was inspired by the National Park Service’s centennial in 2016, which was celebrated with the Find Your Park movement to spread the word about the amazing national parks and the inspirational stories they tell about our diverse cultural heritage. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks—it’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever.

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Call for Papers & Posters

The Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada / image: Eric MacDonald
The Skyline of Calgary, Alberta, Canada / image: Eric MacDonald

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation 39th Annual Meeting in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

May 25-27, 2017

Conference theme: “Big Sky, Big Landscape, Big Ideas”

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2017 annual meeting theme of “Big Sky, Big Landscape, Big Ideas,” to be held in Calgary, Alberta. The Program Committee invites proposals for papers and summaries of works in progress that will promote lively and thoughtful discussions about cultural landscape conservation. In particular, submissions that deal with the subjects of tourism, agriculture, and natural resource extraction are encouraged, as these themes will be reinforced by our visits to the cultural landscapes of recreation and industry in Calgary, Canada’s third largest city; Drumheller Valley, a landscape of former coal mines and agriculture in Alberta’s badlands; and Banff, the scenic birthplace of Canada’s national park system. We also encourage proposals on the wide the range of topics present in the Alberta landscape, such as:

  • Aboriginal, First Nations and Native American perspectives, interpretations and understandings of the power of place and the larger landscape.
  • Explorations of the cultural concept of “The North,” including notions and concepts of Canadian identity.
  • Topics concerning the preservation, adaptation and reuse of vernacular architecture, structures and landscapes.
  • Issues associated with the reclamation, restoration and renewal of post-industrial sites and landscapes.
  • Topics relating to the establishment, experience, influence, impact, and management of national parks. (Such topics could include: issues of resource management, conflicts between preservation and development, ecological and habitat pressures associated with global climate change, etc.).

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The 2017 HALS Challenge

Roeding Park (HALS CA-59). Grove of fan palms on east side of park. image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-59
Roeding Park (HALS CA-59). Grove of fan palms on east side of park.
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-59

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to promote documentation of our country’s dynamic historic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes, but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

For the 8th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document a historic city or town park. In 2016, the National Park Service celebrated its centennial with the Find Your Park movement to spread the word about the amazing national parks and the inspirational stories they tell about our diverse cultural heritage. Find Your Park is about more than just national parks! It’s also about local parks and the many ways that the American public can connect with history and culture and make new discoveries. With more than 80% of Americans living in urban areas, urban parks are becoming more important than ever.

Perhaps the city or town park you choose to document may:

  • be so popular that it is threatened by overuse;
  • be challenged with incompatible additions or updates;
  • suffer from neglect and deferred maintenance;
  • be unnoticed with its significance unappreciated; and/or
  • be documented to encourage its preservation.

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The 2016 HALS Challenge Winners

The Wilcox Park (HALS RI-1) short form historical report is the first Historic American Landscapes Survey documentation for Rhode Island. image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS RI-1
The Wilcox Park (HALS RI-1) short form historical report is the first Historic American Landscapes Survey documentation for Rhode Island.
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS RI-1

The results of the 7th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Documenting National Register Listed Landscapes, were announced during the HALS Meeting at the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO on Saturday, October 22, 2016 in New Orleans. Congratulations to the winners!

1st Place: Empire Ranch, HALS AZ-19
Greaterville vicinity, Pima County, Arizona
By Gina Chorover, MLA, Heritage Conservation Program, University of Arizona; Helen Erickson, MLA, Drachman Institute, University of Arizona; Robin Pinto, Ph.D., Consultant; and University of Arizona Heritage Conservation Program Student Researchers: Abrar Abdullah H. Alkadi, Heather Leigh Havelka, Armando Lagunas, Gabrielle Miller, Taira Lynn Newman, Genna Renee Vande­Stouwe, Jessica Paola Estrada, Rachelle Hornby, Nicole Lavely, Kathryn Elizabeth McKinney, and Chelsea Parraga

2nd Place (Tie):
Juliette Gordon Low Birthplace, Garden, HALS GA-4
Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia
By Daves Rossell, Ph.D., Professor of Architectural History, Savannah College of Art and Design, and his students: Anthony Nicholas, Stephanie Heher, Carleigh Hessian, Ricardo Chiuz, Paul Fritz, Chelsea Lyle, and Lois Watts

Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, Commemorative Groves, HALS VA-66
Along the Potomac River from McLean to Mount Vernon, Virginia
By Paul Kelsch, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Landscape Architecture Program, Virginia Tech, Washington Alexandria Architecture Center

3rd Place: Lincoln Park, Lily Pool, HALS IL-15-A
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
By Melanie Bishop and Meredith Stewart, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Historic Preservation Program with Faculty Sponsor Charles Pipal, AIA

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A Celebration of Place

Oak Alley image: Alexandra Hay
Oak Alley
image: Alexandra Hay

Historic Preservation at the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting & EXPO in New Orleans

As historic preservation professionals, we are especially well versed in ‘a celebration of place,’ the theme of the 2016 ASLA Annual Meeting. Our collective work as Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (HP PPN) members is particularly relevant, and at its most inspiring, when we are advocating for, and planning and designing toward, a celebration of the individualistic qualities and character of each place in which we work. Please join colleagues and friends in New Orleans for discussions and dialogue on current issues and ideas related to historic places.

New Orleans is a particularly exciting place to celebrate, and explore. Be sure to join in on the many field sessions and events that reveal the city’s fabulously rich and diverse history. Education sessions offer insight into a range of relevant topics: cultural authenticity, maintenance and funding strategies, past successes that inform future needs, and more.

Special Events: Meet colleagues, connect with old friends, and make new acquaintances at these events. Let’s get the word out—historic landscapes and cultural resources are current and fundamental to landscape architecture and ASLA.

TCLF’s New Orleans Excursion: A Cultural Continuum from Antebellum to Modernist
Daylong Excursion: Friday, October 21, 9:00 am to 6:30 pm
Reception at the Curtis House: Friday, October 21, 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Tickets and waiting list available through TCLF

SITES® Workshop: Navigating the Submittal Process and Trouble-shooting Challenges with the Experts
Friday, October 21, 1:30 to 5:00 pm

Opening General Session: Shared Wisdom: Legacy, Practice and Partnership
Saturday, October 22, 8:00 to 9:00 am

Historic Preservation PPN Meeting
Saturday, October 23, 12:45 to 1:30 pm in the Jackson Square Meeting Room

EXPO Reception featuring the Professional Practice Networks
Sunday, October 23, 4:30 to 6:30 pm

Women in Landscape Architecture Walk
Monday, October 24, 7:00 to 8:30 am

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HALS Heroes Success Story

Potter's Field, Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery, Martinez, CA image: UC Berkeley students Annalise Chapa, David Koo, Yang Liu, and Mark Wessels
Potter’s Field, Alhambra Pioneer Cemetery, Martinez, CA
image: UC Berkeley students Annalise Chapa, David Koo, Yang Liu, and Mark Wessels

In 2011, the ASLA Northern California Chapter’s Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) subcommittee started the HALS Heroes initiative. Their objective was to encourage more members to create HALS drawings of culturally significant landscapes in Northern California.

The HALS program was created in 2000 through a tripartite agreement between ASLA, the National Park Service, and the Library of Congress. The program is modeled on the Historic American Buildings Survey, which began in 1933, and the Historic American Engineering Record, which began in 1969. Northern California has had an active HALS group since November 2004 and since that time they have held quarterly meetings, given talks to educate people about the program, organized numerous tours to historic landscape sites, and directly or indirectly been responsible for creating documentation for at least 65 California sites.

The HALS Heroes program offers a $1,000 stipend to anyone who produces a minimum one sheet drawing of a cultural landscape in California. The selected site must be approved by the chapter leadership and the drawing must conform to the HALS Measured Drawings Guidelines. Fred Rachman, a HALS chapter member who is trained as an architect, was the first recipient of a HALS Heroes stipend for completing a measured drawing of Rancho Los Alamitos in Long Beach.

In June 2015, I was asked to give an annual report of the committee’s activities at a chapter board meeting. I brought prints of the HALS drawings that the committee members had created the previous year to the meeting. After my short presentation, I was taken aback when then-chapter president David Nelson, ASLA, proposed that the chapter provide up to five $1,000 stipends to support the program. The board members were enthusiastic and asked me to submit a formal proposal outlining how the program would work. David also stressed that the program seemed ideal for students and encouraged me to seek opportunities to engage students to participate.

I left the meeting both elated and anxious. While thrilled by the unexpected exuberant response to my report, I felt daunted by this new challenge. How would I find a group of students to engage in the program and how much effort would it take on my part to oversee their work?

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From the Hungarian Empire to Ross County, Ohio

The Driapsa Farmhouse, 2015 image: David Driapsa
The Driapsa Farmhouse, 2015
image: David Driapsa

I have such an amazing family, and I am sure you do, too. My father is first generation American; my mother is a Daughter of the American Revolutionary War; and I grew up in a European culture on my grandparents’ farm.

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) is about histories and sometimes about the family landscapes experienced. Sometimes little is known of the past besides the fact that the owners are related; sometimes there is a large cache of precious history known by the family.

My family is fortunate to know our family and farm history. My grandfather, Emil Driapsa, and grandmother, Helen Kraus Driapsa, were born in Upper Hungary, the present-day Slovak Republic, emigrated to the U.S. and married in 1912 in Columbus, Ohio.

The couple had a goal of owning land in their new country, a dream that was almost impossible in Europe at the time. Through hard work and saving their earnings, the couple realized their dream in 1914 when they bought the 68-acre farm near the village of Bainbridge in Paxton Township, Ross County, Ohio. The local terrain reminded them of their homeland, and they sponsored other European immigrants to move onto the adjacent farms in what became the Potts Hill European Community.

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The Sunset Headquarters Landscape

image: Gordon Osmundson
image: Gordon Osmundson

The Sunset Headquarters landscape, in Menlo Park, California, was originally designed by Thomas Church, with a building by designer and developer Cliff May. The property is historically significant for its building and landscape; however, it is just as important for its association with the magazine and publishing company. Still popular as a publisher today, its place as a tastemaker in post-WWII California and the Western United States cannot be disputed. I regret to say that the property has been sold and Sunset has moved out. Some sources assure us the property won’t be changed very much, but I am skeptical of this claim, given property values in the South Bay. At least there is documentation of the property, which will reside in the Library of Congress as a result of documentation produced for the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) for the 2015 HALS Challenge competition.

I’ve looked forward to each year’s HALS Challenge. I find it’s a timely spur to pursue the very satisfying and in-depth exploration of a significant landscape. Digging in to a landscape design, so to speak, gives me an excuse to spend time understanding a place—how it was designed, where it fits in our history of landscape architecture, what it meant to people at its creation, and what it means to us now. What I learn each year continues to resonate long after I am finished with the project.

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The 2016 HALS Challenge

Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, HALS CA-42, Simi Valley, CA image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection
Grandma Prisbrey’s Bottle Village, HALS CA-42, Simi Valley, CA
image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to document our country’s dynamic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

We are pleased to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 2016. The NHPA is a cornerstone of American historic preservation. It was created in the belief that too many important historic places were being lost to post-World War II development and construction, and that the federal government could (and should) play an important role in protecting places that embody the United States’ cultural heritage.

For the 7th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document National Register listed landscapes from your region of the country. Authorized by the NHPA, the National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Currently there are 90,540 total listings with 1,752,995 total contributing resources. Many of these listings represent or include landscapes. Search for National Register listings in your area here.

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The 2015 HALS Challenge Winners

Kaiser Center, Oakland, Alameda County, California image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-3-9
Kaiser Center, Oakland, Alameda County, California
image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS CA-3-9

The results of the sixth annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Documenting Modernist Landscapes, were announced at the HALS Meeting that took place during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Chicago on Saturday, November 7, 2015. Congratulations to the winners!

1st Place:
Sunset Headquarters, HALS CA-115, Menlo Park, San Mateo County, California.
by Janet Gracyk, ASLA, Terra Cognita Design and Consulting; Chris Pattillo, FASLA, PGAdesign, Inc.; and Jill Johnson, Historic Preservation Services with bonus measured drawings delineated by Sarah Raube, Janet Gracyk, Lorena Garcia Rodriguez, Genny Bantle, and Chris Pattillo.

2nd Place:
Marin General Hospital, HALS CA-118, Greenbrae, Marin County, California.
by Denise Bradley, ASLA, with bonus measured drawings delineated by Janet Gracyk.

3rd Place:
Union Bank of California Plaza, HALS CA-119, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California.
by Hannah Dominick.

Honorable Mentions:
Six Moon Hill, HALS MA-3, Lexington, Middlesex County, Massachusetts.
by Pamela Hartford and Marion Pressley, FASLA, Principal, Pressley Associates.
&
Valley House Gallery and Sculpture Garden, HALS TX-10, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas.
by William Hartman, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture, Louisiana Tech University and Patrick Boyd Lloyd, David Rolston Landscape Architects.

Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes were awarded to the top 3 submissions. This challenge resulted in the donation of 18 impressive HALS short format historical reports and 3 sets of drawings to the HALS collection.

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Historic Preservation in Chicago

The Arthur B. Heurtley House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Oak Park, Illinois, the subject of an ASLA Annual Meeting field session image: Alexandra Hay
The Arthur B. Heurtley House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, in Oak Park, Illinois–the subject of an ASLA Annual Meeting field session
image: Alexandra Hay

I look forward to seeing all our members and new colleagues in Chicago for the 2015 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO, and I hope you will attend the Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (HP PPN) meeting on Saturday, November 7 from 12:45 to 2:15pm. We will be sharing the new initiatives that the leadership group has been working on, and we hope to hear about the work of members as well.

Storytelling Your Project. Please consider submitting a brief paragraph describing one or more of your current or recent projects. We will a few submissions and ask that you prepare 3 images and present these in a brief 3-minute story to the members at the HP PPN meeting in Chicago. Submit your paragraph to Alexandra Hay, Professional Practice Coordinator at ASLA, by this Friday, October 23.

Share Your Perspectives in Chicago!

‘Perspectives,’ the theme of the Annual Meeting, is particularly relevant to our PPN’s collective work in cultural resources and historic preservation, providing multiple tours and sessions on landscapes of contrast and comparison. Please join colleagues and friends in Chicago for discussions and dialogue on current issues and ideas in our design and planning for historic places.

Many field sessions and events explore Chicago’s rich history and cultural development from ‘Paris on the Prairie’ to the ‘Second City.’ Education sessions offer insight into a range of relevant topics: cultural authenticity, maintenance and funding strategies, past successes that inform future needs, and more.

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The Gardens of August: Wyndygoul

Lantern slide of Seton’s manor house at Wyndygoul, Cos Cob, Connecticut, circa 1900 image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-01507
Lantern slide of Seton’s manor house at Wyndygoul, Cos Cob, Connecticut, circa 1900
image: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-DIG-ggbain-01507

Part of a Research, Reachout & Restore series on historic and cultural landscapes

A century after the start of the First World War and 53 years since The Guns of August was published, the garden where Barbara Tuchman wrote her Pulitzer Prize-winning work reveals itself.

Barbara Tuchman’s daughter once mentioned the garden to me in passing, recalling a Japanese maple—or was it a weeping cherry, with layered limbs cascading over stone walls onto the smooth surface of the pond? It was her grandfather’s, Maurice Wertheim’s, garden. This frugal recollection, like a grudging haiku, conjured an elegant landscape. I couldn’t shake it.

Since our conversation many years ago, I pieced together the few threads and clues that I remembered. Earlier this spring, I finally found the elusive garden and learned about its storied past. It remains extant, albeit threadbare. Originally it was the property of Ernest Thompson Seton, a wealthy naturalist and Englishman who bought up six old farmsteads in the village of Cos Cob, Connecticut, creating his country estate in 1900 and naming it Wyndygoul, Scottish for windy glen.

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ASLA Marks Centenary of Rome Prize

The American Academy in Rome image: James O'Day
The American Academy in Rome
image: James O’Day

Centennials are occasions upon which to reflect and bestow honor. This year, the American Society of Landscape Architects has an important, historic event to observe—the centenary of Edward Lawson, FASLA, winning the prestigious Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture at the American Academy in Rome in 1915. Lawson was the first landscape architect to win the coveted prize, which was sponsored by ASLA. It was a turning point for the profession as well as for this newly-minted Cornell graduate.

At the July meeting of the Potomac Chapter of ASLA, Brett Wallace, ASLA, and Shawn Balon, ASLA, of the Executive Committee endorsed the proclamation submitted by James O’Day, ASLA, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Chapter Liaison, to recognize the achievements and historic importance of Lawson’s ASLA-sponsored fellowship at the American Academy in Rome.

The presence of Lawson at the academy was a coup de main for ASLA. After years of striving, the nascent and evolving profession would be accorded the same recognition that its “sister” arts—architecture, painting and sculpture—had enjoyed since the academy’s inception in 1894. The new fellowship in landscape architecture made it possible for young professionals to join the collaborative dialogue that was shaping city planning and urban design.

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Documenting Modernist Landscapes

One of Sunset Magazine's temporary demonstration gardens image: Chris Pattillo
One of Sunset Magazine’s temporary demonstration gardens
image: Chris Pattillo

The theme of the 6th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge is to document a Modernist Landscape—preferably a site that reflects the unique landscape from the region you live in. Luckily for us Californians, we have much to choose from. Thomas Church, Garrett Eckbo, Lawrence Halprin, Robert Royston and Theodore Osmundson all lived and practiced in the San Francisco Bay Area and created memorable modernist designs. When an email went out announcing the theme of this year’s challenge, one of our HALS Northern California Chapter members responded promptly to alert us that one of Church’s most well known and most visited landscapes is potentially threatened.

If one posed the question, “what one thing has influenced California gardens more than anything?” myriad responses would result. Our varied and generally temperate climate would be one good answer. But upon reflection, I’m certain many would agree that Sunset Magazine has done more to influence how our gardens look, what plants we try, and how creatively we imagine our outdoor living spaces than anything else. Just to prove my point, try Googling Sunset Magazine—78 million hits pop up instantly.

In 1951, magazine owner Larry Lane commissioned local architect Cliff May to design the headquarters building for Sunset Magazine. At the same time, he looked to Thomas Church, the premier local Landscape Architect, to partner with May to design the setting. The result of their collaboration is a powerful representation of idealized California living. Visiting the property, one enters through oversized, wooden double doors into a high-ceilinged and spacious lobby and at the same time into Church’s landscape. Opposite the doors is a glass wall the full length of the lobby, so that upon entering the building one feels they are instantly in the garden.

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The 2015 HALS Challenge

Skyline Park, HALS CO-1, Denver, CO image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection
Skyline Park, HALS CO-1, Denver, CO
image: Library of Congress, Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey Collection

Documenting Modernist Landscapes

“How do you design an environment where man can grow intellectually…a total environment that encourages and develops the self expression of every individual in it?”
–Robert E. Marvin

The Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) was created in 2000 to document our country’s dynamic landscapes. Much progress has been made in identifying cultural landscapes but more is needed to document these designed and vernacular places.

For the 6th annual HALS Challenge, we invite you to document modernist landscapes unique to your region of the country. During the mid-20th century, landscape architects responded to the regional environment using design as an agent of social change, creating human scale space, modern forms, and sculptural compositions, which were intended to be experienced rather than simply viewed.

The designs of renowned modernist landscape architects like Church, Eckbo, Kiley, Halprin, and Rose face developmental threats despite growing national awareness. The lesser known works of many other regional designers must be documented to encourage their preservation.

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