Landscape Preservation Stabilization Plan
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park
Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park is notable in the history of conservation stewardship. Its significance lies in both people and practices — several prominent American conservationists and more than a century of continuous, careful stewardship are evident in the park's landscape, buildings, and museum collections. The landscape is comprised of a remarkable juxtaposition of formal areas with lawns, specimen trees, and flower gardens set beside rustic woodland gardens and naturalistic forest plantations. The age of many of the landscape features and the recent transformation of the property from private residence to public park, however, introduced threats both to individual elements and to the overall character of the cultural landscape.
The preparation of a cultural landscape report was initiated to address the long-term management needs of the property. However, given the comprehensive and lengthy nature of the project, the CLR could not address the need for immediate landscape preservation maintenance guidance. A landscape stabilization plan was quickly developed to provide procedures for halting deterioration and safeguarding landscape features from loss while the cultural landscape report was being completed. In particular, the plan provides recommendations to improve the condition of a ninety-five-year-old perimeter hemlock hedge, address fungal infection of a state champion Norway spruce, stabilize hazardous trees, and cable aged hemlocks to prevent damage to the historic mansion. The plan also provides park staff with information on best arboricultural and preservation maintenance practices to support ongoing landscape management operations.
The stabilization plan for the mansion grounds was prepared as a cooperative effort between several partners. Landscape preservation specialists from Hampton National Historic Site in Townsend, Maryland and the New York State College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, New York worked alongside staff from Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Site and the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation to prepare the plan.