Help! I need to get out of my preservation suit!

by Deb Merriam

Earthworks at Fort Davis

The three sites Tisha and I surveyed on Sunday all had the same distinctive characteristic. The historic resource:  the  earthworks, were completely hidden by trees and invasives. Because the earthworks were completely  “Invisible” there was a disconnect between this historic resource and the surrounding open space. These parks are essentially  functioning as urban green space. People walk dogs, play ball and have picnics but the National Park sign states that the site represents something else: The Civil War Defenses.   Here is the problem. Andrew’s post about his vision for the Forts from the perspective of a designer  made me realize that as a preservationist I look at the earthworks and think: If we start thinking about pulling out the trees to reveal the views and the earthworks, the historic features could be severely damaged. The removal of large trees could do massive damage to the earth works. Yet without some kind of intervention the historic resource of the park is completely hidden.

Last year I visited Crown Point Historic site on Lake Champlain. The earthworks are clearly visible and an incredible sight. If I can get out of my preservation suit and think about seeing some of the defenses “exposed” it adds a whole new dimension to our sites beyond the interpretive sign.

Long View at Crown Point Historic Site

Crown Point Historic Site Earthworks