Back at it again with the third blog post of the summer! If you haven’t done so already, be sure to check out Ella’s, Jenna’s, and Angelina’s respective blogs. They are doing awesome work, and each one of them is beginning her own respective project for the summer with the OCLP. Also, if you haven’t done so yet, read up here and here on President Obama’s visit to Yosemite National Park, in which he expresses the importance of conservation and preservation as related to climate change. This is strongly related to what I am doing throughout this summer along with the other DTP interns at the OCLP and the other LHIP interns across the country. I have now worked with the OCLP of the National Park Service for the past three weeks, and I already (and am continuing to) understand how important it is to maintain our collective history through preservation and to take preemptive measures for preservation against climate change.
This past Monday on June 20th, the DTP interns went to the Charlestown Navy Yard to visit both the Northeast Museum Services Center (NMSC) and the Preservation Planning Team of the OCLP. We took the ferry from Boston Harbor to the Charlestown Navy Yard on a beautiful sunny day, perfect for the Summer Solstice. At the NMSC, we had a brown bag lunch with several members of the staff, and we received a tour of the extensive archive collection and the archeology unit. Meeting the staff and touring the facility gave me an immense appreciation for the enthusiasm and extensive care of the NMSC. They diligently ensure all objects and files are properly received, documented, stored, and taken care of. After the NMSC, we met our fellow OCLP colleagues on the Preservation Planning Team. Although the Preservation Planning Team is frequently mentioned in the Boston office, they had a mythic, fabled-like status among us DTP interns as we had never met them. We did meet the team, however, and toured their facility, and we are happy to report the Preservation Planning Team does in fact exist and are doing awesome work over at the Charlestown Navy Yard.
This past Wednesday on June 22nd, we went to the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline, Massachusetts. NPS Ranger Alan Banks took us through Frederick Law Olmsted’s former house / design firm and the landscape. Touring through the house was especially fascinating because we saw the mid/late-19th and early-20th version of a design studio. We saw former drafting tables, a 1902 planting order list, a 1932 Instructions to Draftsmen book (which is the contemporarily equivalent to what Tim Layton teaches us on ArcGIS and AutoCAD), and a replica of the former secured vault with drafts and plans. Learning about the former blueprinting process was especially interesting as the Olmsted Firm created blueprints by simply exposing their light-sensitive paper (layered to the original drawing of course) to the sun by letting it rest on a sliding pulley system attached to the house. In the event of bad weather or working at night, the “‘Wagenhurst’ Automatic Electric Blue Printer” exposed enough light to transfer the lines of the drawing to the copied layer. Some of the overhanging frames for the finished plans were quite large, and it makes sense how and why the Olmsted Firm has such an extensive array of projects across the country. We ended our tour with a walk through the landscape of the property. As noted by Park Ranger Banks, the landscape of the house is a microcosm for a major project like Central Park in Manhattan or Prospect Park in Brooklyn. We walked through the sunken garden, carriage circle in front of the house, and open yard at the southern end of the house. Although I grew up in the Greater Boston area, I had never before been to FRLA, and I really enjoyed going to the site to connect with the larger history of Frederick Law Olmsted, original founding and development of landscape architecture in the United States, and creation of the Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation.
I am also currently coordinating plans for a programming event for Latino Conservation Week (LCW), which runs from July 16th – 24rd. I am in the process of organizing an event to take place in Boston, and I have been in contact with the Jamaica Plan Historical Society, Neighbors United for a Better East Boston (NUBE), Northeastern University Library Archives and Special Collections Department, and Boston Parks & Recreation Department. In accordance with considering my own perspective on myself as a Latino, I have diligently been researching Latinx history in the city of Boston in relation to preservation. My hope is to arrange a meeting, walking tour, or collections visit with one or several of these organizations to provide Latinx historical context for these respective Boston sites. LCW may be in just under a month, but I recognize how fast time will go by and how important it is to plan the events in advance. I’ll definitely keep you updated on how my progress goes on that front and what the upcoming plans for LCW will be for the OCLP!