We’re in the landscape business!
By Diana Painter
Historic and cultural landscapes, an important part of our historic legacy, do not always get the attention they deserve. Gardens, parks and plazas are often recognized as important public spaces, but they may also be historic resources. And properties like farms and ranches, theme parks and subdivisions are also part of Oregon’s historic environment. Now, the Oregon SHPO is pleased to announce a number of recent milestones in our effort to build recognition and support for historic and cultural landscapes.
The Halprin Open Space Sequence, a series of public plazas in downtown Portland designed by the late Lawrence Halprin, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in March 2013. It was recognized by Charles Birnbaum, president of the Boston-based Cultural Landscape Foundation, in an article in the Huffington Post on December 4, 2013, where it was called out as one of four important modern landscapes listed in the National Register this year. Another recent listing is Petersen Rock Garden, outside of Redmond, Oregon. This unique site, which has operated as a tourist destination since about 1938, was the top feature in the National Park Service’s “Weekly List” of new National Register properties for the week of November 8, 2013. It also earned a spot on their Facebook page. We hope that this recognition brings support for the Garden and their fundraising efforts.
A third type of landscape, familiar to everyone but perhaps not as a landscape, is the post-war subdivision. The Oak Hills Historic District of Beaverton is a Planned Unit Development, an innovative type of master planned community that incorporated open spaces and public amenities in its planning. It was listed in the National Register in July 2013. It is not only the first post-World War II suburb in Oregon to be listed in the National Register, with building dates of 1965 to 1974, it is one of the ‘youngest’ post-war subdivisions in the country to be so recognized.
Finally, we are pleased that Salem’s Lord & Schryver Garden has won a national award for their cultural landscape documentation, a project funded in part by an Oregon Cultural Heritage Grant. The Home Garden of Lord & Schryver, the first woman-owned landscape architecture firm in the Pacific Northwest, won first place in the annual HALS Challenge, sponsored by the National Park Services’ Historic American Landscape Survey program. The Oregon SHPO will be assisting the Lord & Schryver Conservancy with their National Register nomination for the garden in the forthcoming year and is pleased to see attention brought to this important historic property, which is part of the Gaiety Hill/Bush’s Pasture Park Historic District.
Over eighty historic parks, plazas and gardens in Oregon are listed in the National Register. These include city parks, state parks, urban plazas, campuses, trails and scenic overlooks, public and private gardens, and open spaces associated with historic sites. Twenty-nine cemeteries, another type of historic landscape, are listed. Cultural landscapes in Oregon such as recreation sites (campgrounds, resorts, and baths) and agricultural resources (farmsteads, ranches, dairies and orchards) are also listed in the National Register. What are the important historic landscapes in your community? We in the National Register program are interested in helping bring recognition to these important historic properties.
Diana Painter is an architectural historian with the Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), part of Oregon Heritage.