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 [graphic] National Register Bulletin How to Evaluate and Nominate Designed Historic Landscapes

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U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service

Introduction

This bulletin is intended to guide Federal agencies, State Preservation Offices, Certified Local Governments, preservation professionals, and interested individuals in identifying, evaluating, and nominating designed historic landscapes to the National Register of Historic Places. Particular emphasis has been placed on providing guidance for the successful preparation of nominations for designed historic landscapes. It is assumed that any designed historic landscape that is being considered for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places will have been the subject of a preliminary survey. This bulletin deals with designed historic landscape documentation, assessment, and other related issues only as they apply to the actual nomination process.

The bulletin addresses only the designed historic landscape--one type of landscape within the broader category of historic landscape. For the purposes of the National Register, a designed historic landscape is defined as any of the following:

  • a landscape that has significance as a design or work of art;
  • a landscape consciously designed and laid out by a master gardener, landscape architect, architect, or horticulturalist to a design principle, or an owner or other amateur using a recognized style or tradition in response or reaction to a recognized style or tradition;
  • a landscape having a historical association with a significant person, trend, event, etc. in
  • landscape gardening or landscape architecture; or
  • a landscape having a significant relationship to the theory or practice of landscape architecture.
Although many historic landscapes are eligible for the National Register primarily on the merits of their design, a substantial number also possess significance in other areas. New York's Central Park, for example, has significance in social history and transportation, although its primary significance is landscape architecture.

In many instances, the original design intent of a significant designed historic landscape was to complement an adjacent building or buildings. In such cases the nomination needs to address the significance of both the architecture and the designed historic landscape and their interrelationship. Examples of interrelated historic architecture and designed historic landscapes, such as a courthouse and courthouse square, should not be artificially separated but evaluated as a unit.

Many historic landscapes are eligible for the National Register because they represent such themes as early settlement, immigration, or agriculture; yet unless they meet the above definition, they are not considered designed historic landscapes. This definition of designed historic landscape does not include such landscapes as ethnic communities or farmsteads that may be historic but that developed for the most part without benefit of professional planning or design; that were not consciously designed as works of art; or that represent the work of distinct cultural groups and are more properly classified as cultural or vernacular landscapes. (See also National Register Bulletin: Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Rural Historic Landscapes.)

Historic properties such as battlefields, forts, and mines have been excluded from the category of designed historic landscape since they are more properly related to other areas of significance. In certain exceptional circumstances where there is a relation to landscape architecture, as in the case of a battlefield that has subsequently undergone extensive landscape changes while evolving into a commemorative battlefield park, the property might be considered primarily a designed historic landscape.

 

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