Longfellow’s Landscape Legacy: It’s way more than poetry!

Hello all! So, I was pretty amazed at the number of “ah-ha” moments I had this week, but also, more importantly, how representing several (and overlapping) stories of a landscape/structure becomes a challenge for preservationists, NPS, staff, and of course, Landscape Architects!

So, this week while everyone was up at Acadia, Kristi and I took advantage of a BEAUTIFUL June morning, and hopped on the red line to accomplish a mission for Chris and Jeff. Our task? Recapture some key images of the Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site in Cambridge! We had just returned from a photo document day out at BOHA, and were eager to soothe our sunburns beneath the shady, Gleditsia lines streets of Cambridge!

DSC_0940     Longfellow House

I was excited to go here, especially after Chris had let the beans spill about a garden restoration that had been done on the site, and that Mona (the head gardener) would possibly be there! (I love talking with Mona, she is such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to plants and their habitats!) Both Kristi and I knew very little about the site, and upon arrival, set out to find our image capture spots. We were able to tour the grounds, sort of piecing the historic landscape together, and deciphering where the angles were taken from. The grounds were lovely, and despite the construction, it was informative to see how things have changed in the course of 5 years.

DSC_0915 Garden Pergola

I think that my “ah-ha” moment for the week came at a point during our tour of the inside of the home, which, I will admit, I thought was going to be very, say “poetic”. It was not! I found it a great insight on the use, and history of the home. And in a way, I felt a bit more tied to the landscape. It was very interesting to hear how George Washington’s use of the house was more of a “meeting spot”, with arrivals and departures of officials before the Revolutionary War. This really set the stage for me, in understanding how important this site is on a national level. Additionally, as I heard about Washington’s time there, I began to think the landscape itself was drastically different, and more utilitarian than it is now.

MaryAlice, our NPS  guide was extremely insightful, and very enthusiastic about the subject matter, and knew an immense amount of details concerning Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s connection and time at the home, and his role in social reform at the time. I found it very interesting to see how the home had evolved and how the landscape must have too through different usages. Such a turning point for history on a residential street in Cambridge, and a really great example of preserving a site with a layered past!

Just to end…I think there is something interesting about the NPS slogan of “Find Your Park”, just a thought on this: but, what if there is something in each park you find? Maybe it’s not just about one place, but a little of something in each? Kristi and I definitely debated this on our way back from Cambridge…we both agreed, it’s going to be tough to find just one!

Until next week, Cheers!

 

 

 

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