It may not have been deliberate, but the National Trust’s 2021 list of the 11 Most Endangered Historic Properties includes five cultural landscapes. The National Trust has become an excellent champion of properties reflecting the nation’s diversity, and efforts to stretch the nation’s historic preservation consciousness to encompass landscapes is reaping results. None of the five are designed landscapes, but each reflects an important moment in American history, and each is a distinct landscape type. Several reflect a diversity that was absent in the early years of the preservation movement. Kudos to the National Trust for encompassing sites that reflect many of America’s people and the landscapes they occupied.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation began identifying threatened sites more than 30 years ago by publishing the annual 11 Most Endangered list. Competition can be keen to garner a place on the list because the publicity and advocacy has saved properties. Typically, properties on the list are threatened by destruction or neglect. It is not unusual for landscapes to appear on the list, including designed landscapes, but five on one list seems like a win.
A summary of the significance and threats to the properties on the 2021 list that encompass significant landscapes follows, drawn from information on the National Trust website. And, the National Trust is accepting Letters of Intent for the 2022 list through November 12, 2021—you’ll find more on the nomination process below.
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.