FEATURED PROJECTS

Sprigg Lane at the University of Virginia Landscape Study

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Located just a quarter mile northwest of the historic “Academical Village” at the foot of Lewis Mountain, the Sprigg Lane residential enclave today occupies roughly the geographic center of the University of Virginia campus, but stands apart as an oasis of shaded lawns, stately trees, mature boxwood hedges, curated plant collections, and carefully-designed walls, gates, terraces, and connecting pathways traditionally part of a shared landscape of friends and colleagues. 

 

The residential district was established in the 1830s with the construction of Morea by Dr. John Patten Emmet, appointed Professor of Natural Science by Thomas Jefferson in 1825. Morea is unique in being the only surviving dwelling built by one of the original university faculty members approved by Jefferson. The 106-acre property acquired by Emmet, for whom adjacent Emmet Street is named, was later subdivided at various times. During the 1930s, the other three

properties that are also the focus of this study, were developed on the subdivided land. 

 

Each of these properties has its own fascinating history. However, when taken collectively, the cluster of residences and the quiet enclave of Sprigg Lane serves as a fascinating microcosm of the influence of the University of Virginia on the Charlottesville community, aspects of its urban form, and the contributions of its faculty, administrators, and friends to education, philanthropy, architecture and landscape, and the arts. 

Liz Sargent HLA played a leading role in the historic research, inventory, integrity assessment and significance evaluation for the district. The historic landscape study provides the University of Virginia with critical information to guide future programming, design and management decisions. Waterstreet Studio served as a collaborator on the project.

Kalaupapa and Kalawao Settlements Cultural Landscape Report

The Kalaupapa and Kalawao Settlement Cultural Landscape Report addresses preservation, interpretation, and adaptive reuse of a historic landscape composed of a rich collection of historic features--residences, institutional buildings, roads, walks, fences, rock walls, and tree and shrub plantings—that collectively convey a unique sense of place.

 

The Kalaupapa and Kalawao Settlements were established on a remote peninsula on the Hawaiian Island of Molokai to isolate people diagnosed with Hansen's Disease. Enforcement of isolation practices continued between 1866 and 1969, after sulfone drugs were found to arrest the advancement of the disease. The entire Kalaupapa Peninsula, which includes both settlements, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and Kalaupapa National Historical Park in 1980. 

Blue Ridge Parkway System-wide Historic Resource Survey

Features associated with the park include more than 250 historic structures, 1,300 grave markers, pre-contact Hawaiian cultural sites, churches, institutional housing, residential neighborhoods, gardens and other culturally important plantings, lava rock walls, and views and vistas that reflect life in the settlement. 

 

The settlement remains home to several patients and a community of helpers, comprised of employees of the Department of Health and National Park Service, as well as representatives of several churches and non-profit organizations. With the majority of the land within the park owned by the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and Department of Land and Natural Resources, other partners, and churches, the park works cooperatively with many groups to manage the historic landscape. The Cultural Landscape Report supports on-going stewardship of landscape resources into the future by providing treatment guidelines and recommendations designed to the historic character of the settlements. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway System-wide Historic Resource Survey was the first study of its kind ever conducted for the National Park Service. Funded by a National Scenic Byways grant, the survey documented the history and significance of over 1,000 designed resources—bridges, tunnels, overlooks, visitor centers, picnic shelters, coffee shops, lodges, pioneer farm exhibits, park housing, maintenance structures, and comfort stations—associated with the 469-mile motorway.

Team members reviewed and analyzed survey data, compared it with research and context information, and assessed each resource for its contribution to the significance of the Blue Ridge Parkway. By comprehensively completing an assessment of all Parkway resources at one time, the team was able to establish a system of resource typologies that allowed for the identification of the best examples of each type taking into consideration design, materials, and integrity. The assessment was designed to meet the National Park Service goal of establishing a manual for

Parkway stewardship that could apply appropriate treatment strategies to individual resources. Supporting the individual resource assessments was a detailed report documenting the Parkway’s 52-year construction history, the framework of relevant historic contexts, and the National Register eligibility of Parkway resources. The report also explains the determinations regarding which features are individually eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

The report articulates the design principles developed by Parkway planners in the 1930s that guided construction throughout, and identifies how individual Parkway resources reveal the innovative and creative solutions devised by the original design team to address the challenges of building a scenic motorway through the rugged Blue Ridge Mountains. The Blue Ridge Parkway remains among the best examples of American interdisciplinary design and engineering in the United States.

Nicodemus National Historic Site Cultural Landscape Report 

Nicodemus is a rural community in northwest Kansas founded in 1877 by African Americans freed from slavery. The townsite is a National Historic Landmark and was established as a unit of the National Park System in 1996. This vernacular landscape has remained a cohesive community of farms and families that can trace their lineage to early settlers who established systems of self-governance and lifeways after Reconstruction. Today, the townsite remains an active living community. The viability of farming within the region, however, has been in decline for some time, and there are concerns that the number of residents will continue to diminish unless economic opportunities increase.

The Cultural Landscape Report for the National Historic Site includes a detailed site physical history, derived in part from a companion project conducted by the team to collect thirty personal interviews, existing conditions documentation, National Register level integrity assessment and significance evaluation, and a detailed treatment plan. Recommendations address repair and stabilization of site features, interpretive programming, and methods for employing landscape resources as aids for story-telling, as well as access improvements intended to protect the integrity of the property and promote respect for the privacy of community members. The plan also considers the role of heritage tourism in local lifeways and its potential advantages and challenges for the community.

Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park is located in south-central Kentucky midway between Louisville and Nashville, Tennessee. Mammoth Cave was established as a national park on July 1, 1941, for the purpose of preserving the extensive system of underground passages and formations that had long been the object of exploration, scientific research, and tourism. Today, at a length of at least 412 miles, the system of passages known within Mammoth Cave is considered to be the longest in the world. The importance of Mammoth Cave has been recognized through its designation as a UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve. Much of the area that has been the focus of tourism and other historic period cultural use is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Mammoth Cave Historic District.

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Since the early nineteenth century, individuals and organizations involved in accommodating visitors to the cave have created systems of trails, stairs, bridges, overlooks, and gathering spaces to facilitate access. The earliest visitors, led by enslaved guides, experienced the cave with only the aid of grease- or oil-fueled lanterns. They followed relatively narrow trails littered with uncleared rocks and rubble in some places, and sometimes wet or muddy in others. Where the trail edged steep slopes or drop-offs, wooden handrails were sometimes provided, while wooden bridges and wood or stone stairs were used to span pits and chasms. Many of the early trails were improved upon during the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), work that entailed moving a tremendous amount of rock and soil to create a more stable systems of paths, stairs, walls, causeways, and handrails and guardrails through toured sections of Mammoth Cave. Additional improvements were made during the 1950s and 1960s as part of the federally funded Mission 66 program, including walls, stairs, an elevator, handrails and guardrails, seating, electrical system upgrades, restroom facilities, a dining area, and drinking fountains.

Liz Sargent HLA played a leading role in preparing a Cultural Landscape Report for 35 miles of passages within Mammoth Cave. The CLR provides detailed documentation of historic and existing conditions, identifies character-defining features, National Register significance, an integrity assessment, and treatment guidelines and recommendations designed to address the specific needs and concerns of the National Park Service related to the Mammoth Cave Historic District.

Zion Canyon

Zion Canyon is an iconic landscape of magnificent and dramatic geological formations that inspire awe and wonder. Although Zion Canyon defies description in many ways, the associated landscape has inspired American art and poetry for more than a century. Prior to settlement by European-Americans during the mid-nineteenth century, Zion Canyon served as ancestral homeland for the Southern Paiute Tribes. Explorers visited the canyon and relayed stories of its grandeur prior to initial settlement by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the second half of the nineteenth century. Many of the landforms and natural landscape features that characterize the Zion Canyon cultural landscape derive their names from these pre-park-era inhabitants.

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Zion Canyon is a linear landscape composed of the winding course of the North Fork Virgin River, edged to either side by floodplain and valley terrain, and contained by the steeper slopes and geologic formations of the canyon walls. Following the river along a higher river terrace is a historic road corridor that provides access to visitor amenities and park administrative areas. The 8.5-mile road includes the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway that extends through Lower Zion Canyon between the South Entrance and Canyon Junction, and Floor of the Valley Road that continues through Upper Zion Canyon from Canyon Junction to Temple of Sinawava parking area, located at the narrow northern end of the canyon. Although the canyon averages approximately 1.5 miles in width, it generally narrows from south to north.

Since the 2000s, Zion National Park has become one of the most popular National Park System units in the United States. Since the mid-2010s, visitation levels have increased from 2.7 to more than 4.5 million visitors per year. This dramatic and rapid increase has created significant challenges that the NPS is working to address by devising solutions that both respect the heritage of Zion’s cultural history and meet visitor needs. Zion Canyon in particular is the primary focus of park visitation. It contains the predominance of commercial use authorizations and developed areas, the bulk of park facilities, all concessions operations, and the greatest concentration of historically significant cultural resources. Many of Zion Canyon’s cultural landscape features are listed in the National Register of Historic Places (National Register) as part of historic districts, or as individual buildings, roads, trails, archeological sites, or ethnographic resources important to Native American Tribes. Preservation and protection of these and other resources potentially eligible for listing in the National Register is important to the NPS mission, even as accommodating visitors remains a key responsibility of the agency.

 

​To support the agency’s planning process in addressing the various needs associated with Zion Canyon, the National Park Service engaged a team of preservation professionals that included Liz Sargent HLA to prepare a Cultural Landscape Report for Zion Canyon. The CLR is intended to support decision-making related to proposed developments to improve circulation and visitor accommodation within Lower Zion Canyon, while also addressing preservation needs throughout the canyon.

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is the site of a Utopian religious community established in 1805 that became, at its height in the 1850s, one of the largest Shaker societies in the United States. Located within the Bluegrass region of central Kentucky, the 3,000-acre Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill property is recognized as a significant historic property through designation as a National Historic Landmark (NHL). The heritage values of the property are protected and interpreted to the public by the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Foundation (Foundation), a non-profit organization that relies on revenue generated by visiting guests and funding from public sources, private donations, farm operations, and endowment income. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill affords a unique opportunity to visit a preserved example of a nineteenth-century Shaker community. Visitors can learn about the innovative ways in which community members met the day-to-day needs associated with growing food, constructing shelter, and

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fashioning goods as well as the principles of their religion doctrine, which included prayer, simplicity, perfection, peace, celibacy, equality of race and sex, and freedom from prejudice. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill also provides insights into how these religious principles continue to be reflected in the fine design and craftsmanship of Shaker architecture, furniture, and other examples of material culture on display at the site.

Even as the Foundation works to protect the heritage values of Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, they are faced with certain challenges involving property management and accommodating the needs of visitors. Among these is the need for contemporary communications systems. In 2020–2021, the Foundation worked with a cellular communications carrier to devise a strategy for improving cell phone signal coverage for the property. In 2021, a new cellular communications tower was erected in a location that was carefully evaluated for its impact on the NHL property. As part of the mitigation of the potential impacts on the property, Environmental Corporation of America engaged Liz Sargent HLA to prepare a Cultural Landscape Report (CLR) for a portion of the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill property as a mitigation measure. Centered around the Shaker industrial complex and the initial Shawnee Run Shaker community, the CLR addresses a portion of the property where features had not previously been entirely documented either through historic research or field investigation. The CLR helped broaden the understanding of the history of the property while supporting long-term management of the cultural landscape and its features.

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