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Documenting America’s Landscape Legacy: Recent National Register Listings

Linda Flint McClelland, Historian
National Register of Historic Places, NPS

Recent National Register listings have substantially contributed to the recognition of American’s rich landscape legacy and documented the contributions of landscape architects, master gardeners, horticulturists, agriculturists, and ethnic communities. These listings represent a wide range of properties, including historic cemeteries, parkways, estates, suburban neighborhoods, and rural agricultural communities, that have been found significant at the local, state, and national levels. Nominations have been sponsored by private owners, state historic preservation offices, non-profit organizations, and university research programs.


Highlights include:
Above, two images of Graceland Cemetery, Cooke Count, IL

Graceland Cemetery, Cook County, Illinois
(January 18, 2001). Significant for its outstanding design in the areas of landscape architecture, art, and architecture, the 119-acre cemetery took shape between 1860 and 1950 and reflects the influence of both the rural cemetery movement and the American landscaped lawn plan of cemetery design. Several noted landscape designers have contributed to its evolution, including H.W.S. Cleveland and William LeBaron Jenney. It is best known as the premier work of O.C. Simonds, who from 1878 to 1931 was in its landscape actively involved gardening and planning and was one of the leading practitioners of the Prairie Style of Landscape Gardening, based on the emulation of native land forms and graceful plantings of native trees and shrubs.

Irwin Union Bank and Trust, Miller House, and North Christian Church, Bartholomew County, Indiana (May 16, 2000). Documented under the multiple property submission entitled "Modernism in Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Art in Bartholomew County, Indiana, 1945-1965," these widely-recognized and highly-influential masterpieces of modern design resulted from the collaboration of landscape architect Dan Kiley and architect Eero Saarinen. Ranging in date from 1954 to 1964, they are among several properties designated National Historic Landmarks for their exceptional design achievement and association with a local program of patronage in Columbus, Indiana, which gained international acclaim and had dramatic impact on modern design.

General Motors Technical Center, Warren, Macomb County, Michigan (March 27, 2000). The automobile manufacturer’s 326-acre corporate campus in Warren, Michigan, which took form between 1949 and 1970, has been described as the "near-definitive" example of mid-20th century corporate campus. The architecture is an outstanding example of the work of architect Eero Saarinen in the International Style, and the highly formal modernist landscape featuring a well-defined rectilinear plan in which staff facilities are arranged around a rectilinear lake is an outstanding example of the work of landscape architect Thomas Church.

Nansen Agricultural Historic District, Goodhue County, Minnesota (November 15, 2000). 4,683-acre agricultural district representing a continuum of land use patterns and agricultural practices in southeastern Minnesota from the Norwegian settlement of the Sogn Valley in 1870 to the period immediately following World War II. The landscape reflects changing patterns of agriculture from early subsistence farming, to wheat farming in the late 19th century, to diversified farming in the 20th century.

Agricultural Historic District, Goodhue County, MN  

J. B. Jackson House, Santa Fe County, New Mexico (June 4, 1999). In the village of La Cienega, five-acre country home in the semi-arid, high desert (Upper Chihuahuan) associated with prominent author and educator J. B. Jackson from 1965 until his death in 1996. Through teaching at Harvard and University of California-Berkeley and through the publication of Landscape magazine, several books, and innumerable essays, Jackson contributed greatly to 20th-century intellectual thought concerning the relationship of culture and nature in shaping the American landscape. Jackson directed the development of his "country place" home with its terraces, irrigation channels, ponds, cottonwood groves, fruit orchards and sprawling adobe ranch house.

J. B. Jackson House, Santa Fe County, NM  

Palisades Interstate Parkway, Bergen County, New Jersey, and Rockland and Orange Counties, New York (August 2, 1999). Passing through the Palisades Interstate Park, the forty-two mile, limited-access, scenic pleasure drive extends north along the west side of the Hudson River from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to Bear Mountain, New York. Built between 1947 and 1961, the drive is an "outstanding example" of parkway engineering and landscape design and represents an important stage in 20th-century efforts to preserve the scenery and dramatic escarpment called the "Palisades of the Hudson."

Palisades Interstate Parkway, Bergen County, NJ  

 Middleton House, Forsyth County, North Carolina (February 28, 2000). The Winston-Salem home of Martha Thurmond Chatham, widow of one of state’s most prominent textile industrialists, has been recognized for its design achievement and association with the early historic preservation movement. The relocated Federal-style plantation house (ca. 1829) and its gracefully designed five-acre site resulted from the 1930-1933 collaboration of prominent country estate designer Ellen Biddle Shipman of New York and local restoration architect William Roy Wallace (who had worked under Philadelphia’s Charles Barton Keen).

Middleton House, Forsyth County, NC  

 Cheekwood, Davidson County, Tennessee (August 23, 2000). The country estate’s recently restored ornamental gardens and Georgian Revival house are significant as the work of leading American landscape architect and architect Bryant Fleming of Ithaca, New York. Constructed from 1929 to 1932 for Leslie and Mabel Wood Cheek, the Nashville estate is a fine representation of Fleming’s manifold talents and ability to integrate the arts--landscape design, architecture, and interior design (antiques)--in the creation of single masterpiece.

Cheekwood, Davidson County, TN  

Greater Newport Rural Historic District, Giles County, Virginia (December 14, 2000). 21,085-acre rural district in west-central Virginia is significant for its rich and varied history. First settled in 1790, the landscape today reflects the interplay of agricultural, recreational, educational, and industrial land uses that evolved and achieved importance during the past two centuries. Early transportation routes, iron-mining sites, farmsteads and fields, upland forests, and early tourist facilities continue to convey the tension between nature and culture that has marked the history of this mountainous region.

Greater Newport Rural Historic District, Giles County, VA  


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