Cultural Landscape Report Overview
As appropriate, utilize the following at all stages of Cultural Landscape Report preparation processes:
National Register Bulletins Relevant to Historic Structures
Partner Publications Relevant to Cultural Landscapes
2.0 Cultural Landscape Background
From Preservation Brief 36: Protecting Cultural Landscapes-Planning, Treatment, and Management of Historic Landscapes.
Cultural landscapes can range from thousands of acres of rural tracts of land to a small homestead with a front yard of less than one acre. Like historic buildings and districts, these special places reveal aspects of our country's origins and development through their form and features and the ways they were used. Cultural landscapes also reveal much about our evolving relationship with the natural world.
A cultural landscape is defined as "a geographic area, including both cultural and natural resources and the wildlife or domestic animals therein, associated with a historic event, activity, or person or exhibiting other cultural or aesthetic values." There are four general types of cultural landscapes, not mutually exclusive: historic sites, historic designed landscapes, historic vernacular landscapes, and ethnographic landscapes. These are defined below.
Historic landscapes include residential gardens and community parks, scenic highways, rural communities, institutional grounds, cemeteries, battlefields and zoological gardens. They are composed of a number of character-defining features which, individually or collectively contribute to the landscape's physical appearance as they have evolved over time. In addition to vegetation and topography, cultural landscapes may include water features, such as ponds, streams, and fountains; circulation features, such as roads, paths, steps, and walls; buildings; and furnishings, including fences, benches, lights and sculptural objects.
Most historic properties have a cultural landscape component that is integral to the significance of the resource. Imagine a residential district without sidewalks, lawns and trees or a plantation with buildings but no adjacent lands. A historic property consists of all its cultural resources--landscapes, buildings, archeological sites and collections. In some cultural landscapes, there may be a total absence of buildings.
The planning, treatment, and maintenance of cultural landscapes requires a multi-disciplinary approach. In landscapes, such as parks and playgrounds, battlefields, cemeteries, village greens, and agricultural land preserves more than any other type of historic resource--communities rightly presume a sense of stewardship. It is often this grass roots commitment that has been a catalyst for current research and planning initiatives. Individual residential properties often do not require the same level of public outreach, yet a systematic planning process will assist in making educated treatment, management and maintenance decisions.
Wise stewardship protects the character, and or spirit of a place by recognizing history as change over time. Often, this also involves our own respectful changes through treatment. The potential benefits from the preservation of cultural landscapes are enormous. Landscapes provide scenic, economic, ecological, social, recreational and educational opportunities that help us understand ourselves as individuals, communities and as a nation. Their ongoing preservation can yield an improved quality of life for all, and, above all, a sense of place or identity for future generations.