Historical Landscape Services

Preservation Planning

Cane River Creole National Historical Park

Commonwealth conducted historical research to develop a historical overview of the park and support a National Register of Historic Places determination of eligibility. Cane River Creole National Historical Park preserves 62.91 acres of cultural landscape, 65 historic structures, over 500,000 artifacts, and many other unique resources located within two units: the Oakland and Magnolia plantations. Housing once occupied by the plantation owners, enslaved people, and later, tenant farmers and sharecroppers, and a blacksmith shop, gin barn, mule barn, carpenter’s shop, plantation stores, cisterns, pigeonniers, dipping vats, museum collections, archeological sites, and remnant landscapes from the plantation era, are all manifestations of the lives of people whose families lived and worked the two plantations for more than 200 years. Commonwealth prepared a historic resource study to provide a historical overview of the park, and identify and evaluate its cultural resources within historic contexts. The study provides a narrative designed to serve managers, planners, interpreters, cultural resource specialists, and interested public as a reference for the history of the region and the historic resources within the park. Its management recommendations set goals for future investigations of these nationally-significant historic sites.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site

Kure Beach, North Carolina

Commonwealth served as historic preservation consultants for the development of designs for a new visitor center and outdoor exhibits at Fort Fisher State Historic Site. The enormous earthen fortification, Fort Fisher, was constructed between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River on historic Federal Point during the Civil War to protect the port of Wilmington. Two battles, one in December 1864 and another in January 1865 were waged for possession of the fort. The site of the fort was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962, and the state historic site was created to preserve and interpret its history. The Division of State Historic Sites and Properties, an agency of the NC Department of Cultural Resources, engaged Commonwealth on the design teams for the development of a master plan for the site, followed by the design of a new visitor center and outdoor exhibits. Commonwealth began by conducting research for a historical summary describing the major landscape features of the site surviving from the period of significance. Commonwealth then conducted background research on the original construction of the fort and guided the reconstruction of the fort’s earthworks, which will serve as outdoor exhibits for the new visitor center.

United States Capitol Complex

Washington D.C.

Commonwealth served as historic preservation consultants with the prime, developing a historic integrity summary identifying areas best for above- or below-ground stormwater management solutions. Considerations included historic viewsheds, circulation patterns, patterns of spatial organization, historic vegetation, and other landscape features. Landscape architects for the prime designed the stormwater solutions that were informed by Commonwealth’s research. The U.S. Capitol Building was constructed in 1791 in a rural landscape of rolling hills and marshes, but today, the building stands in a dense urban area that drastically differs from its original condition. Urban growth has impaired local rivers and streams, as rainwater washes pollutants from urban areas that flow directly into nearby waterways. Federal regulations outlined in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act set new standards to restore the hydrology of the Capitol Complex to its original, predevelopment condition. The challenge of integrating sustainable stormwater management is particularly significant at the U.S. Capitol, where careful coordination is needed to limit disturbance to the Capitol’s sensitive historic resources.

1779 Brodhead Campaign and Battle of Thompson’s Island

Pennsylvania and New York

Commonwealth developed an interpretive design concept plan to guide public interpretation of the 400-mile route of Colonel Daniel Brodhead and his 600 troops up the Allegheny River from Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) into present-day New York. Along the campaign route in 1779, Brodhead and his men burned several American Indian towns; destroyed an estimated 500 acres of corn in the field; and captured hides, stored maize, horses, canoes, and household items; one minor skirmish, the Battle of Thompson’s Island, was reported. Commonwealth investigated and mapped the Brodhead Campaign route, then developed the plan, identifying interpretive themes and desired visitor experience, recommending interpretive tools and funding, developing a phasing plan, and suggesting potential stakeholders and partners. In map form, Commonwealth identified 400 miles of potential tour routes and wayside interpretive sign locations, and proposed the best ways to experience different segments of the tour, including driving, cycling, hiking, or kayaking, and different lengths of tours from day trips to week-long driving trips.

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville, Arkansas

Commonwealth served as historic preservation consultant to OLIN Studio in the development of the Campus Landscape Design Manual for the University of Arkansas. The public land-grant university was founded in 1871 on a small farm site in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains, but has grown into a nationally-renowned university with more than 200 areas of study. In 2012, the university sought to develop the manual to build on previous planning documents and create a singular, prevailing vision for the campus grounds that advances a beautiful, cohesive, and intentional landscape. Commonwealth conducted historic research and existing conditions documentation for seven historic landscapes identified in the university’s Campus Preservation Plan and developed treatment recommendations. The recommendations were used to inform the manual and other campus planning efforts.

St. Mary’s College of Maryland

Historic St. Mary’s City, Maryland

Commonwealth developed a preservation master plan for properties owned and managed by St. Mary’s College, Trinity Parish, and Historic St. Mary’s City. St. Mary’s College is a four-year liberal arts school founded in 1840 and located along the St. Mary’s River in the historic town of St. Mary’s City. The campus partially occupies and is contiguous with the boundaries of the original seventeenth-century settlement of the Maryland colony. The preservation master plan was developed with two primary components: a landscape management plan for the sites associated with the college-owned Calvert Hall (1924) and St. Mary’s Hall (1904), the city-owned reconstructed State House (1934), and the church-owned Chapel of Trinity Parish (circa 1830s); and individual assessments for these four buildings. The cultural landscape was studied using archeological and historical records, then surveyed and evaluated for its historical integrity. The preservation master plan provides St. Mary’s and its partners with a tool to improve stewardship and preservation within the study area.

Moravian College

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Commonwealth developed a historic preservation master plan for this 260-year-old institution that traces its origins to the Great Awakening, the era of religious fervor that swept the American colonies in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The College’s architectural heritage is nearly as old; two of its buildings pre-date the Revolutionary War and one actually played a part in that momentous undertaking. Moravian College’s architectural history reflects the European vernacular architecture of Bethlehem’s early Moravian community, melded with materials indigenous to the region. The college has a complex history encompassing two campuses that developed along parallel and gender divided lines. These locations also serve as a metaphor for the history of the College in the context of the growth of the city of Bethlehem and America’s religious, immigrant and educational history. The preservation master plan was developed with two primary components: a landscape management plan and a set of individual case studies for historic campus buildings. The resulting preservation master plan supports Moravian College and its partners in stewardship and preservation, and provides an important background component to the Campus Master Plan.