Historic Preservation Trellis Pilot Project at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP

Trellis pilot project @ Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller NHP

Trellis Pilot Project

J Gilbert

Quick Facts


A Call to Action
Action Item:
What’s Old is New
Also Promotes:
Destination Innovation
Year Accomplished:

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park (MABI) received a grant from the Woodstock Foundation, Inc., of Woodstock, VT, to develop, field test, and install an innovative trellis system for vines growing on the west façade of the historic brick mansion.  The project is designed to explore, evaluate and select trellis options that provide necessary vine support, minimize potential vegetative damage to the structure, and present desired aesthetic character.

Vine growth on the building is a historical feature but has proven to cause damage to decorative and structural elements of the building, such as window shutters and gutter downspouts. The trellis selected will support the vine while protecting the historic masonry and building features from damage.

Though off the shelf systems are available, few are sensitive to the preservation needs of historic buildings or the aesthetic qualities of historic properties. Commercially available trellises designed for this type of vine, which attaches itself to surfaces using rootlets along the stems, involve mounting a rigid or flexible grid using a large number of anchor points that must be drilled into the building.

This project supports Call to Action #25: What's Old is New. It is a partnership between park staff and landscape preservation specialists from the Northeast Regional Office, Historic Architecture Conservation and Engineering Center (HACE) and the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation (OCLP).  The team will design, install, monitor, and evaluate preservation alternatives.

Prototype: A series of isolated points and hardware have been initially selected for the prototype system.  They will be installed to anchor the vine to the building while minimizing disturbance to the historic fabric and providing a protective air space between the plant and building. In addition, the anchor points will provide a framework to guide plant growth to desired areas of the façade and away from sensitive architectural features.

The systematic approach and methodology developed and applied through this project, as well as the information collected and decisions made, will benefit the larger preservation community by offering solutions that help accomplish preservation goals of many historic properties: maintaining vines on historic structures.

For additional information, please contact John Gilbert, Facility Manager, Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park at (802) 457-3368 or john_gilbert@nps.gov.