Indian Mounds: A Sacred Burial Place

by Brenda Williams, FASLA

Indian Mounds: a sacred burial place
The cemetery is sacred to living Dakota people whose ancestors are buried here. / image: Quinn Evans

The American Society of Landscape Architects recently announced the 2021 ASLA Professional and Student Awards, including the project highlighted here: Indian Mounds Cultural Landscape Study and Messaging Plan, winner of a 2021 Professional Honor Award in the Analysis and Planning Category.

THIS PLACE IS NOT A PARK

The Indigenous burial ground that is currently called “Indian Mounds Regional Park” has been a sacred burial ground for over a thousand years. It is significant to living Indigenous Peoples as a cemetery where their ancestors are buried. It is a place of reverence, remembrance, respect, and prayer. When the City of Saint Paul established a park in this location in 1892 with the purpose of protecting the historical setting and spectacular views, connections of contemporaneous Indigenous Peoples to the sacred site were not understood, considered, or valued.

Over the last century the condition, name, and use of the landscape as a park have become beloved to the surrounding community. Yet many non-Indigenous people have wondered about this powerful landscape without understanding its importance to tribes. Through public gatherings with generous sharing by tribal representatives and members of the public, we learned that the power of this place affects the people who interact with it, and there is a strong desire to protect it as a sacred site.

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Dearfield, Colorado: Homesteading and the Dream of Black Independence Through Agriculture

by Kevin M. Lyles, PLA, ASLA, and Robert Brunswig, PhD

Black-and-white portrait of Oliver Toussaint Jackson
Oliver Toussaint Jackson moved to Colorado from Ohio in 1877 at the age of 24, establishing and successfully operating a catering business, cafes, a small resort, and a farm in the Denver and Boulder areas. Largely on his own personal initiative, Jackson formed the Negro Town Site and Land Company in 1909 and began purchasing homestead land in the Dearfield area under the Desert Act of 1877 in 1910. / image: James A. Michener Library, University of Northern Colorado

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

The prevailing depiction of homesteaders settling the Great Plains of America is that of stoic white men and their supportive families. But people of all walks of life, races, and creeds sought new opportunities by heading west. Recent research indicates more than 26,000 Black people participated in homesteading the Great Plains, with about 3,500 successfully ‘proving up’ their claims (Edwards et al.). Like most homesteaders, Blacks sought opportunities to start over, obtain land at low cost, and build futures. Additionally, Blacks sought to escape oppression and rising post-Civil War “Jim Crow” racism. Many followed the teachings of Booker T. Washington, an African American intellectual who advocated for Black economic self-sufficiency and social advancement though hard work and vocational training, instead of political agitation. And so many headed west.

Unlike many white homesteaders, most Black homesteaders chose to settle together in rural communities as self-identified ‘colonies.’ Among those communities were Nicodemus (Kansas), Dewitty (Nebraska), Sully (South Dakota), Empire (Wyoming), Blackdom (New Mexico), and Dearfield (Colorado) (Friefeld et al.). Dearfield is exceptional because the colony’s main townsite remains one of very few that still has intact, original standing buildings. It was also one of the latest, established in 1910 when most of the West and Midwest’s desirable farmland and water rights were already claimed.

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Buffalo Soldiers on the Southwest Border

by Helen Erickson, ASLA

Camp Naco, 2021 / image: Helen Erickson

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

Camp Naco lies in the valley of the San Pedro River of southeastern Arizona, between the Huachuca Mountains and the Mule Mountains. Set some 300 feet from the wall that now runs along the border between the United States and Mexico, its adobe buildings bring to mind an unsettled decade at the beginning of the twentieth century when Mexican revolutionaries, striking mine workers, lawless bandits, and a World War I intrigue between Germany and Mexico dominated the political landscape. During the greater part of its history, the camp was home to rotating troops from the 10th U.S. Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed the “Buffalo Soldiers.”

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Skyline Park Threatened Again

Denver's Skyline Park
Skyline Park, HALS CO-1, Denver, Colorado. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

Colorado and Denver have a rich history of Modernist architecture and landscape architecture. From large sites such as Herbert Bayer’s Aspen Institute, to the Denver Botanical Gardens designed by Garrett Eckbo, to the Cliff May houses and Googie-style Tom’s Diner, the growing city of Denver in the 60s was home to many modernist masterpieces. One of these was Lawrence Halprin’s Skyline Park, a three-block linear park in the heart of downtown. A significant part of the park was lost to redesign in the early 2000s and now the few Halprin remnants are at risk of being lost. The following is an article written by Annie Levinsky, Executive Director of Historic Denver, about the current status of Skyline Park.
– Ann Mullins, FASLA

Future Uncertain for Remaining Elements of Halprin’s Skyline Park

In 2020, the Department of Parks & Recreation launched a new planning effort to redesign Skyline Park, located between 15th and 18th along Arapahoe in Downtown. The park already has an unfortunate preservation history.

Constructed between 1972 and 1975, this one-acre linear park and plaza was a central feature of the Skyline Urban Renewal District. The park was designed by Lawrence Halprin, who subsequently went on to be one of the most lauded landscape architects of the later 20th century.

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Daughters of Zion Cemetery: Grassroots Preservation How-To

by Liz Sargent, FASLA, Edwina St. Rose, and Bernadette Whitsett-Hammond

Photograph of Daughters of Zion Cemetery
Daughters of Zion Cemetery, established in 1873, is located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Conditions within the cemetery have been improved dramatically through the efforts of the Preservers of Daughters of Zion Cemetery, a grassroots preservation advocacy group established in 2015. This view shows the recently restored cast iron surround at the grave of Rev. M. T. Lewis (center). / image: Liz Sargent

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

In 1873, the Daughters of Zion Society formed a charitable organization to establish a burial place for African Americans in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia, as an alternative to the segregated municipal option at Oakwood Cemetery. Although the exact number is not known, ground-penetrating radar (GPR) surveys revealed as many as 600 burials at Daughters of Zion Cemetery. With many of the founding members having passed, the Society was dissolved in 1933 and the cemetery began to fall into disrepair. Although family members often cared for individual graves or plots, there was no one responsible for maintaining the cemetery. It became overgrown and subject to vandalism.

With proprietorship of the property in question, the City of Charlottesville assumed ownership of the property through eminent domain in the 1970s. Despite this change and a subsequent listing of the property in the National Register of Historic Places in 2009, the condition of the cemetery continued to decline. In 2015, a group of local pastors, led by Rev. Dr. Lehman Bates, II of Ebenezer Baptist Church, appealed to the local community to devise a plan to improve the condition of the cemetery and address long-term care. Tours to the grounds conducted by descendants, pastors, city representatives, and preservationists revealed evidence of vandalism, hazardous trees, erosion, fallen and broken headstones, plot surrounds with missing elements, and no signage to identify the cemetery by name.

Within a few short months of the tours, Edwina St. Rose and Bernadette Whitsett-Hammond, who have family buried at the cemetery, and Maxine Holland formed the Preservers of the Daughters of Zion Cemetery (Preservers) to address the needs associated with the cemetery. At the time, St. Rose served on the City of Charlottesville Historic Resources Committee, a volunteer group that met regularly with city officials to consider historic preservation opportunities. Charlene Green, then Charlottesville Director of the Office of Human Rights, also brought concerns regarding the Daughters of Zion Cemetery to the attention of the Historic Resources Committee. Members of the committee, which included Liz Sargent, FASLA, vowed to assist in raising awareness and support preservation initiatives. In speaking to St. Rose about her work on the project, Sargent learned that the city would likely fund repairs if provided with an appropriate plan and cost estimate for the work based on discussions about the most pressing needs for the cemetery. Sargent offered to prepare a Preservation Strategies Plan with cost estimates for the group to present to Charlottesville City Council. With the blueprint in hand, the Preservers successfully lobbied City Council for their plan and were allocated $80,000 to complete several preservation initiatives. In just a few short years, the Preservers, with the assistance of several other dedicated volunteers, have accomplished nearly all of their restoration goals. Their work and creative advocacy strategies suggest a model for other grassroots preservation efforts on raising the awareness, funds, and interest necessary to achieve a vision or set of goals.

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Poetry and Song in the Landscape

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Black and white photograph with perspective view of house
Anne Spencer House, HABS VA-1173-A-1. Perspective view, showing garden in background. Anne Spencer House Study. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

Two entries from the 2013 HALS Challenge, Documenting the Cultural Landscapes of Women, provide inspiration for the 2021 HAS Challenge, Historic Black Landscapes. These historic sites commemorate two significant Americans, both Black women and artists.

The first example, the Anne Spencer Garden, HALS VA-59, of Lynchburg, Virginia, was documented in 2013 by Elizabeth Blye Delaney, RLA, ASLA, and Ted Delaney, Assistant Director of Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg.

From the HALS Report:

This landscape is significant because it was created by an African American woman, Anne Spencer (1882–1975), who was a distinguished poet of the Harlem Renaissance. Spencer was a librarian and educator in the segregated school system of Lynchburg, Virginia, a co-founder in 1919 of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights activist, and a gardener.

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Allensworth: A Town Built by and for African Americans

by Chris Pattillo, FASLA

Home of Colonel Allensworth
Home of Colonel Allensworth on Sojourna Avenue and Dunbar Road, February 2015. / image: Chris Pattillo

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

Allensworth, HALS CA-68

In 2015 while returning home from a vacation in Tucson, Arizona, I decided to visit Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park in Tulare County, California. I learned about this unique historic park from the database of cultural landscapes that the Northern California HALS Chapter maintains. It is a resource I check regularly when traveling to find interesting places to explore.

We arrived at the state park campground late, so I waited until morning to explore the site, when everything was shrouded in fog. Allensworth State Park is what remains of what was once a thriving town built by and for African Americans. It was founded by five men—Allen Allensworth, a former slave, Union Army nurse, Baptist Minister, lecturer, and politician; William Payne, a school teacher; William Peck, an American Methodist Episcopal Church minister; J.W. Palmer, a Nevada miner; and Harvey Mitchel, a realtor from Los Angeles. They filed plans for a new township on August 3, 1908.

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The Smokey Hollow Community Historic American Landscapes Survey

by David J Driapsa, FASLA

The Smokey Hollow Community. View north, rear yard, 705 East Lafayette Street. HALS-FL-9 Large Format Photograph 4 of 7. Photographer: William “Bill” Lutrick, ASLA. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The following article highlights the importance of documenting historic landscapes for perpetuity. For the 12th annual HALS Challenge competition, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Documenting these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future.

Smokey Hollow was someone’s home. It was a community of someone’s homes—until it was destroyed through urban renewal in the guise of slum clearance.

Remembered affectionately as a vibrant community in urban Tallahassee, Smokey Hollow was located only steps away from the historic Florida State Capitol. Once a slave state, Florida was at one time racially segregated. Descendants of former slaves were required to live in Black communities segregated from white society under the cruel restrictions of white prejudices, Jim Crow laws, and Black codes. Smokey Hollow, an approximately 85-acre African American community, was shaped under these harsh conditions.

Albert Davis Taylor (1883-1951) of Ohio, a prominent landscape architect, past president and fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, produced the 1947 Florida Capitol Center: A Report on the Proposed Development that served as the State master plan with principles of European landscape design that forecast the 1957 construction of the Apalachee Parkway cutting a straight path through the center of Smokey Hollow to the front of the Florida State Capitol Building. Construction of the State Road Department office in 1965 further enlarged the footprint of government that mostly obliterated Smokey Hollow and dispersed its residents.

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The 2021 HALS Challenge: Historic Black Landscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Anne Spencer Garden, HALS VA-59, Lynchburg, Virginia. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

For the 12th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document historic Black landscapes. Black people have built and shaped the American landscape in immeasurable ways. Examining these histories and spaces will expand our understanding of America’s past and future. From plantations to segregated cities, the nation’s landscapes retain the physical manifestations of our racist history. Yet historic Black landscapes also represent creative achievements and reflect Black culture, as seen in residential gardens, parks, and college campuses across this country. Documenting historic Black landscapes will reveal patterns of community that have been built over the course of four hundred years.

Some useful and inspiring resources:

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The 2020 HALS Challenge Winners: Vanishing or Lost Landscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

2020 HALS Challenge Winner, First Place. Harvard Botanic Garden, HALS MA-6, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Aerial view. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The results of the 11th annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge, Vanishing or Lost Landscapes, were announced at the annual ASLA HALS Meeting, held virtually on December 8, 2020. Congratulations to the winners! Sponsored by the National Park Service, cash prizes will be awarded to the top four submissions (there was a tie for second place). This challenge resulted in the donation of 27 impressive HALS short format historical reports and a few measured drawings to the HALS collection for sites in eleven different states.

Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect, and climate change. By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, participants have increased historic landscape awareness by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past.

First Place: Harvard Botanic Garden, HALS MA-6
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Prepared by Allison A. Crosbie, ASLA, Preservation Administrator, Cambridge Historical Commission. This site was significant as one of the earliest botanical gardens in the United States and for its association with Asa Gray (1810-1888), a prominent botanist, educator, and writer.

Second Place (Tie):
Jerome Relocation Center, HALS AR-9
Jerome, Chicot, and Drew Counties, Arkansas
This HALS report and accompanying maps were completed by a team from the Fay Jones School of Architecture + Design and the Center for Advanced Spatial Technologies, both of the University of Arkansas. The project was led by faculty member Kimball Erdman, ASLA, with the assistance of fellow faculty member Greg Herman, staff member Angie Payne, and students Justice Barnes, Trevor Brown, Student ASLA, Vanessa Castaneda, Nate Cole, Amanda Davidson, Student ASLA, Alec Fischer, Chloe Harris, Cayla McGrail, Mary Nell Miskin, Kelsey Mork, Stephen Sines, and Jenna Whitmire. This site was significant as a Farm Security Administration (FSA) farming community, then a War Relocation Authority (WRA) Japanese internment camp, and finally as a United States prisoner of war (POW) camp housing German soldiers and officers.

University Mound Nursery, HALS CA-153
San Francisco, California
Prepared by Stacy Farr and Eleanor Cox. This site is historically significant for its association with the commercial flower-growing industry (floriculture) in San Francisco, and because it includes the last extant commercial greenhouses in a district that was once so thoroughly characterized by nurseries that it was known as the city’s Garden District.

Third Place: Henry Schumacher Farm, HALS WI-19
Waunakee, Dane County, Wisconsin
Prepared by Megan Turner, ASLA, with photographs by Rona Neri. This site is locally significant to the early settlement of Dane County and the Village of Waunakee.

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Documenting Vanishing or Lost Landscapes

Pine Ranch
Pine Ranch, HALS AZ-4-5, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

2020 HALS Challenge: Vanishing or Lost Landscapes
Deadline: July 31, 2020

For the 11th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document vanishing or lost landscapes. Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect, and climate change. By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, you may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past.

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2020. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure, and digital template may be downloaded from the National Park Service’s HALS website.

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The Providence Preservation Society: Advocating for the Preservation of Urban Neighborhoods and Landscapes

by Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

State House, Providence, RI
State House, Providence, RI. This aerial image of the Rhode Island State House is from 1920 and shows the original landscaped grounds. A transportation hub was proposed for the area on the right side of the grounds between the State House and the road. In the 1990s some of the lawn area immediately to the right of the building was made into a parking lot for state legislators. / image: Rhode Island Photograph Collection, Providence Public Library

Many historic preservation organizations are founded to preserve a specific building or landscape. The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) was established in 1956 by leading citizens of College Hill in response to the threatened demolition of a number of early eighteenth and nineteenth century houses in Providence’s historic East Side/College Hill neighborhood. Had this demolition occurred, the entire character of this historic neighborhood would have changed and Providence would have lost a significant historic urban landscape.

The society’s mission is clearly stated on their website:

Our mission is to improve Providence by advocating for historic preservation and the enhancement of the city’s unique character through thoughtful design and planning.

The Providence Preservation Society was then and continues to be an advocate for the revitalization of neighborhoods. And within the past seven years, under the leadership of their current executive director, Brent Runyon, the PPS has led the charge for the preservation and revitalization of a number of threatened neighborhoods and significant landscapes within the City of Providence.

As the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) liaison for Rhode Island, I follow the advocacy work of PPS very closely, particularly with regard to threatened landscapes. The PPS was a strong partner with the Rhode Island Chapter of ASLA in 2017 when the RIASLA nominated the Rhode Island State House and its surrounding landscape for The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s annual Landslide program. This nomination was spurred by a plan for the placement of a transit hub on the east side of the state house landscape. The continued advocacy efforts of the PPS, along with other partners and the national recognition from TCLF’s Landslide feature, helped to stop the transit hub plan and preserve the context for Providence’s state capitol building, designed by McKim, Mead & White.

Providence’s riverfront is currently under threat from a number of development proposals. I contacted Brent Runyon by phone to inquire further about the PPS’ advocacy program and what he considers to be the key areas of focus for their organization.

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Sherry Frear Appointed Chief of the National Register of Historic Places & National Historic Landmarks Program

by Barbara Wyatt, ASLA

Sherry Frear, ASLA, RLA

The National Park Service (NPS) has announced the appointment of Sherry Frear, ASLA, RLA, as the new chief of the National Register of Historic Places / National Historic Landmarks Program. Supported by credentials in landscape architecture, historic preservation, project management, and sustainable practices, her experience encompasses programming, planning, compliance, design and construction, operations and maintenance, interpretation and outreach, and policy development.

She spent her formative professional years with a large Washington, D.C., law firm with a specialty in construction litigation. Volunteer work at the National Building Museum led her to Cornell University, where she earned her MA (Historic Preservation) and MLA. Sherry has worked at the city, county, and federal levels. Most recently, she worked with the General Services Administration in the Office of Design and Construction—part of the Public Buildings Service. In that position she focused on program-level responses to documentation efforts, sustainability issues, and compliance challenges.

Sherry Frear is the first landscape architect to lead the nation’s flagship historic designation programs. The National Historic Landmarks (NHL) Program has long been a designation program for historic properties of exceptional national significance. It evolved from the Historic Sites Act of 1935, which gave the NPS the responsibility of conducting surveys to identify properties that “possess exceptional value as commemorating or illustrating the history of the United States.” Today, there are nearly 2,600 National Historic Landmarks—both privately and publicly owned—but all of exceptional historical, architectural, or archeological significance.

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COVID-19 Impressions from the Historic Preservation PPN

images, clockwise from top left: John Giganti, Marilyn Wyatt, Jessica Baumert, and David Driapsa

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of life, from personal interactions to business to learning to recreation. As we all continue to adjust to life and work during the pandemic, we will be sharing insights, observations, and impressions from ASLA members based around the country. Today, we share brief updates from a few of the volunteer members of ASLA’s Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (PPN)’s leadership team and the PPN’s Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) subcommittee:

  • David Driapsa, FASLA – Naples, Florida
  • Rebecca W. Flemer, Affiliate ASLA – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Ann Mullins, FASLA – Aspen, Colorado
  • Douglas Nelson, ASLA – Mill Valley, California
  • Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA – Rhode Island
  • Barbara Wyatt, ASLA – New York

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The 2020 Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

The Smokey Hollow Community
The Smokey Hollow Community, HALS FL-9-4, Tallahassee, Leon County, Florida. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

For the 11th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document vanishing or lost landscapes. Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect and climate change.

By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, you may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past. People from every state are hereby challenged to focus their 2020 vision to complete at least one HALS short format history to document vanishing or lost landscapes.

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2020. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure, and digital template may be downloaded from the National Park Service’s HALS website.

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The 2019 HALS Challenge Results: Historic Streetscapes

by Chris Stevens, ASLA

Carretera Central, HALS PR-2, San Juan, Caguas, Cayey, Aibonito, Coamo, Juana Diaz, and Ponce, Puerto Rico. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

The results of the tenth annual Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) Challenge were announced at the HALS Meeting during the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture in San Diego on Saturday, November 16, 2019. 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 15 impressive HALS short format historical reports and a few measured drawings and large format photographs to the HALS collection.

2019 HALS Challenge: Historic Streetscapes

First Place: Carretera Central, HALS PR-2
Puerto Rico
by Teresita M. Del Valle, RA, ASLA

Second Place: Larchwood, HALS MA-5
Cambridge, Massachusetts
by Allison A. Crosbie, ASLA, Preservation Administrator, and Kathleen Rawlins, Assistant Director, City of Cambridge Historical Commission.

Third Place: Broad Street, HALS SC-20
Charleston, South Carolina
by John Bennett, Kayleigh Defenbaugh, Monica Hendricks, Tanesha High, Elliott Simon, and Rachel Wilson – Clemson University / College of Charleston. Faculty Sponsor: Carter L. Hudgins, Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation.

Honorable Mention: Main Street, HALS SC-21
Greenville, South Carolina
by Rebekah Lawrence, Associate ASLA

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Natchitoches in the Red River Valley: A Confluence of Cultures

by Brenda Williams, ASLA

Front Street, Natchitoches
Front Street, Natchitoches, Louisiana / image: Brenda Williams

The 42nd Annual Meeting of the Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation
Natchitoches, Louisiana, April 2-4, 2020
Deadline for Paper and Poster Submissions: January 10, 2020
Deadline for Student Scholarship Applications: January 17, 2020

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation (AHLP) is pleased to announce its 2020 annual meeting theme of Natchitoches in the Red River Valley: A Confluence of Cultures, to be held in Natchitoches, Louisiana. The Program Committee invites proposals for papers and summaries of works in progress that will promote lively and thoughtful discussions regarding cultural landscape conservation and preservation. In particular, submissions that address the role and significance of transnational immigration, cultural exchange and adaptation (especially from French, Caddo Indian, Spanish, African and American cultures), landscapes of segregation, enslavement and the establishment of free communities, topics regarding political and religious landscapes, and examples of best practices regarding the conservation and preservation of historic and cultural landscapes are all actively encouraged.

These themes will be reinforced by organized visits to locations such as Los Adaes, the former capitol of Spanish Texas; the Melrose Plantation, founded by a free person of color and transformed into an artist colony; the Magnolia Plantation, where we will experience a bousillage demonstration; and a trip to downtown Natchitoches to tour the national historic landmark district, including stops at the Kaffee-Frederick General Mercantile, the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the Lemee House.

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Detroit as a Cultural Landscape Palimpsest

by Brenda Williams, ASLA, and John Zvonar, FCSLA

Conference attendees in front of the Detroit Public Library
AHLP Detroit conference attendees in front of the Detroit Public Library. / image: AHLP

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation: Conserving Cultural Landscapes (“the Alliance”) met for its Annual Conference in Detroit, Michigan, in May 2019. The theme of the conference was “Detroit as a Cultural Landscape Palimpsest.” The group spent three days immersed in presentations and site visits focused on learning about cultural landscapes throughout the city. We learned how MoTown is addressing dramatic demographic and economic change through innovative approaches to create a positive, resilient future, while embracing, celebrating, and preserving cultural heritage. Following the palimpsest theme, the Detroit landscapes were viewed each day through the lens of a different time span. If Detroit is on your bucket list (and it really should be) you’ll find lots of great information and ideas in this post and associated links.

The Alliance is an interdisciplinary professional organization which provides a forum for communication and exchange of information among its members. It is dedicated to the preservation and conservation of historic landscapes in all their variety, from formal gardens and public parks to rural expanses. If you are not familiar with the Alliance, you can learn more about the organization on their website, ahlp.org.

During the conference, we learned of the importance of the Detroit region to Indigenous communities prior to the arrival of Europeans, and ways current Indigenous Peoples are continuing relationships with the landscape. The Honorable Grand Chief Ted Roll of the Wyandotte of Anderdon Nation, and Joshua Garcia, Wyandotte Nation Youth-Intern Ambassador, introduced us to the land of the Anishinabeg (First People). Representing the voices of Indigenous communities directly associated with the area, they led visits to and taught us about Wyandot sites.

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Battle for the Soul of Point Reyes National Seashore

by Douglas Nelson, ASLA, LEED AP

B Ranch, Point Reyes
The Point Reyes Peninsula Dairy Ranches Historic District’s B Ranch / image: Doug Nelson

Public Comments on the Point Reyes National Seashore Plan

The public review and comment period is open until September 23, 2019. To learn more or comment, visit parkplanning.nps.gov or write to:

GMP Amendment, c/o Superintendent Point Reyes National Seashore, 1 Bear Valley Road, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956

The National Park Service will host two public meetings to share information and gather public feedback:

  • Tuesday, August 27, 2019, 5 to 7 p.m., at the West Marin School, 11550 Shoreline Highway, Point Reyes Station.
  • Wednesday, August 28, 2019, 5 to 7 p.m., at the Bay Model Visitor Center, 2100 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

A multi-year battle for the future of Point Reyes National Seashore may soon be coming to a head—however, the controversy is likely to persist into the park’s future. The future of historic ranches and their cultural landscapes within the park is at stake. The National Park Service (NPS) has recently released an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the future management of the ranches. The public review and comment period is open until September 23.

The 71,000-acre national seashore is located on the Point Reyes Peninsula in California’s Marin County, north of San Francisco. The park was established in 1962 and is administered by the National Park Service. Starting in 1970, existing dairy and cattle ranches within the park’s legislative boundary were purchased from willing families by the National Park Service with a guarantee to lease-back the lands to the families to continue dairy and ranching operations for at least 25 years. The ranches were established beginning in the 1850s and the early settlers found areas of rolling grasslands that were likely the result of thousands of years of landscape management by Native Americans using fire to keep lands open. Without the use of fire, and now grazing, the lands would quickly revert to the densely-vegetated coastal scrub plant community. In 2018, the 17 ranch properties were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, collectively as the Point Reyes Peninsula Dairy Ranches Historic District.

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A Healing Garden in a Therapeutic Landscape

by Rebecca W. Flemer, Affiliate ASLA

William Hamilton (1745-1813) was born in Philadelphia to a wealthy family of colonial lawyers and politicians. Hamilton was an eminent botanist and plant collector, and made The Woodlands a New World model of contemporary English landscape gardening techniques. / image: William Russell Birch (1755-1834). “Woodlands, the Seat of Mr. Wm. Hamilton, Pennsylvania,” from Country Seats of the United States, 1808.

Visit any hospital or healthcare facility in North America and you are likely to find a “healing garden.” This may be a revamped courtyard or a purposely composed landscape designed to benefit patients and their caregivers. Preliminary plans are underway in the Dell area of Woodlands Cemetery in West Philadelphia for a healing garden and green burial site. At first glance, a healing garden in a cemetery may appear to be counterintuitive. However, the institution’s founders and early patrons believed in the therapeutic influence of nature and current plans build on those ideals. Close to the city and multiple healthcare facilities, the garden will serve as a place to learn, heal, and reflect. Aaron Wunsch, Associate Professor in the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation and Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jessica Baumert, Executive Director, have been discussing this plan with Cherie Eichholz, PhD, a social worker at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center. Outlines for such a scheme also appear in the cemetery’s 2015 master plan.

The Woodlands, a 54-acre historic cemetery and estate, is located near the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia VA Hospital (The Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center). The surrounding neighborhood is a mixture of students and professors, with a daily influx of patients and visitors to the nearby medical complexes.

At just under an acre, the ruggedly overgrown north-eastern corner of the Woodlands is known as “The Dell.” Steep sloping ground—20 feet in depth—discouraged burials here. A stream, Middle Run, ran through the area and held a water collection tank which fed an early irrigation line. The area is part of a buffer around the cemetery protecting the grounds from the surrounding commotion of city traffic and noise.

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Documenting Historic Streetscapes

Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore
Mount Vernon Place, Charles & Monument Streets, Baltimore, MD (perspective view looking northeast at the north street side of East Mount Place; view includes the statue “Force”) / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, HALS MD-1-19

The mission of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) is to document historic landscapes of the United States. 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. Past themes have been: Cultural Landscapes of Childhood, Cultural Landscapes of Diversity, the American Latino Landscape, Cultural Landscapes of Women, Landscapes of the New Deal, Modernist Landscapes, National Register-Listed Landscapes, City and Town Parks, and Memorialization, Commemorating the Great War.

For the tenth annual HALS Challenge, the National Park Service invites you to document a historic streetscape—either an individual street or a contiguous network or grid of streets. The deadline to enter is July 31, 2019.

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.

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Paul Dolinsky – Four Decades of Preservation Through Documentation

by Christopher Stevens, ASLA

Dumbarton Oaks Park recording project
The Historic American Buildings Survey conducted the Dumbarton Oaks Park recording project (HABS DC-571) as part of an ongoing effort to create standards for documenting historic landscapes in 1989 (NPS HDP, 1989). Paul Dolinsky, HABS principal architect, served as project leader. Thomas Ford on bridge; Paul Dolinsky, Jakub Zemler, and Andrew Wenchel (behind). / image: NPS HDP

On Friday, April 12, 2019, Paul D. Dolinsky, ASLA, retired from an almost 40-year career with the National Park Service (NPS) Heritage Documentation Programs (HDP), where he served as Chief of the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) from 1994 to 2005; Chief of the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) from 2005 to 2019; and Acting Chief of HDP from 2018 to 2019.

HDP administers HABS, the Federal Government’s oldest preservation program, and its companion programs: the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) and the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS). Documentation produced through HABS/HAER/HALS constitutes the nation’s largest archive of historic architectural, engineering, and landscape documentation. Records on more than 40,000 historic sites (consisting of large-format black and white photographs, measured drawings, and written historical reports) are maintained in a special collection at the Library of Congress, available to the public copyright free in both hard copy (at the Library of Congress) and via the Library’s website. It is the most heavily used collection at the Library of Congress’ Division of Prints and Photographs.

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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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