This presentation is part of the online document Acknowledging Landscapes: Presentations from the National Register Landscape Initiative.
Bob Page: In the northeast we’ve developed I think on a positive note, a really good working process that’s mutually supportive of our National Register documentation efforts and our NPS baseline inventory efforts. So one may be out ahead of the other but we’ve structured both so that they hopefully feed in and help support each other because the whole package is really what we need, we need our baseline and we need these adequately represented in the documentation for the register.
The majority of the cultural landscapes in the northeast region are fundamental resources directly related to why the parks were established and that may be in part why we’ve been driven to think about how best to capture landscapes in the National Register framework that exists. The challenge we faced really starting several years ago was how do we ensure that our landscape resources are documented with parody, with how we document “countable resources.” The prior speakers have spoken to this issue of having a kind of an equal representation of all that significant in the landscape. And in particular how do we document vegetation and spatial organization, a number of things have already been touched upon in section 7 and 8, and in the accompanying data sheets. So our goal has been really to develop a method and result in National Register documentation that would best serve our park managers in fulfilling 106 responsibilities and in using the register documentation as the planning tool for which it’s intended. So to that end, over the past few years we’ve continued to refine it. With Betsy’s leadership we’ve developed a methodology that’s applied throughout the region. This region coordinates its National Register efforts through the regional office so all the documentation gets funneled through Betsy and her program which is good for consistency. And so Betsy’s going to take us through the process using a recent nomination that we did for Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.
Betsy Igleheart: It’s clear that we’re all wrestling with the same issues so I’ll give you NER’s thoughts on how to address it. As Bob said, I’ll use the recent Saint-Gaudens nomination as the case study.
Let’s give you a quick rundown of the significance of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site. It’s associate with the Cornish Art Colony. It’s significant at the state level for the establishment of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial to preserve and protect the site, significant for association with the sculpture Augustus Saint-Gaudens in the category of art. Also significant for landscape architecture, the work of Saint-Gaudens and Ellen Shipman, and for architecture and historic archaeology. So, number of areas of significance here.
The Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is composed of four component landscapes: Blow Me Down Farm in yellow, which borders the Connecticut River, Blow Me Down Mill in pink, Aspet the Saint-Gaudens property in blue, and Saint-Gaudens Farm which was also owned by Saint-Gaudens in brown. As you probably know the light areas are fields and the dark areas are vegetation. The National Register boundary encompasses all four properties.
Each component landscape is captured as a site in the NR documentation. Aspet is primarily a designed landscape. Saint-Gaudens Farm is an agricultural vernacular working landscaping. Blow Me Down Farm is industrial. Natural resources value with the Mill Pond, and Blow Me Down farm is really a bit of both, designed and vernacular and you can catch a glimpse of the Connecticut River in that slide. The National Register methodology to include cultural landscapes really starts with our contract and scope of work. All of our work, except very small projects, are undertaken thought contract and specifically the professional qualification of key personnel have a technical requirement that the team must meet.
So it starts with the contracting and pulling together the team. As you can see it’s a team effort and this one in particular we were looking for experience with buildings and structures, cultural landscapes and archaeology. If we had an ethnographic landscape of course we would ask for an ethnographer to be on that team.
The successful bidder must also demonstrate competency in completing National Register documentation up to an including listing. This is something that we have included in here when we were finding out that actually people had examples of work that they had undertaken but it had never been completed.
We also have a contracting stipulation in here, all resources and features must be included in the documentation whether or not they are countable for the purpose of the National Register and if a CLI is not available, a CLR can be cited and used. If a CLR is not available, the contractor will need to conduct an inventory. We have found that FMSS data is also very helpful in defining the universe of resources.
So here is our mechanism, the “historic associated feature.” This definition has evolved, was developed to reconcile the requirements of the both inventory’s LCS and CLI with National Register documentation guidelines. It’s important to note that in order to use this, historic associated feature must be associated with a countable resource, and I’ll show you how this works when I give you an example in our documentation. Also it’s important to note that it cannot be used for archaeological resources. I think Beth mentioned that features mean something very specific to archaeologists and both Kelly Spradley-Kurowski and Randy Biallas have weighed in and helped to tweak this language.
This site plan gives an accurate depiction of the Aspet designed landscape with buildings, vegetation, and the open space around it that’s captured in the National Register.
This is the more typical thing that you would see in a National Register where the site is the blank slate, or to use Susan’s analogy the dough for the blueberries. And although National Register Bulletin 16 directs us to describe the setting, building, and other major resources, outbuildings, surface and subsurface remains, and landscape features, it doesn’t always happen and many cultural landscapes are documented as a single site without enumerating the landscape features that go into making it up.
This graphic depicts a fuller story about the site with its fifteen historic associated features, including spatial organization in yellow and vegetation in red.
Okay now we’re into section 7, and Susan I hope you’ll forgive me but we did put spatial organization into setting, but I hope that we do have a fuller description in here and really describe the relationship of the significant resources to one another, and capturing the organization of this site.
And then we start with the countable site, the Aspet design landscape. And we go down through, and also at the bottom of this page is the footnote defining our historic associated feature definition, we put it in here at the first reference of that term.
We always develop the data sheets for our nominations and so you see the countable resource here. At the top is the Aspet design landscape and the associated features are those indented and bulleted resources in there so this mirrors the description in section 7 and there is a full description of each of the associated resources in that housed under the Aspet design landscape. We’ll hone in on a specific vegetation example. Note the Birch Allee which includes vegetation and the path. It’s also interesting to note that this feature is included in the CLI and the LCS. For the purpose of the National Register documentation it is captured as a historic associated feature.
And this is the description of both the Birch Grove and the Birch Allee. Again, just say that it’s not just a list as part of the site but does have a full description that’s equal really to the description of a countable resource.
And finally, our contracts also stipulate that resources included in section 7 must be included in section 8 and they appear on the data sheet. So the significance of the resources and their associated features do have significant attributed to them in this section.
I’m going to read the challenges that we have identified that didn’t make it into the last image here but landscape features convey significance yet are not given full accord with building structures and objects. Challenge Two: The inclusion of landscape resources and National Register documentation is not required for listing. The Third: The historic associated feature mechanism was developed out of necessity to fulfill LCS and CLI requirements and fully document all resources that convey National Register significance in our documentation. While this mechanism works, the lumping of all landscape resources into the site does not give these resources equal standing with countable building structures and objects. The question of counting sites within a larger landscape is another challenge. A garden in a larger landscape or site will have a footprint and volumetric presences but not unlike a building or a structure. Presently however it is difficult to include these resources in the property count. While some may say being in the narrative is enough, I hope we can work to give all resources that convey National Register significance equal standing. If this mechanism or device peaks your interest you might also want to take a look at the Saratoga Battlefield nomination. We’re documenting views across the Hudson River to the British Encampment were important in conveying significance. And also the Dune Shacks of the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District at Cape Cod National Seashore, which is eighteen very diminutive buildings, set in this extraordinary cultural landscape.