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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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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