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SUNY ESF Course Offerings

LSA 481/681 Spring 2017
Introduction to Cultural Landscape Preservation 3 credits

Offered in Partnership with the National Park Service Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation

Historic preservation, also known as heritage conservation, is an endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect places of historical significance. It is part of a holistic approach to environmental stewardship.

Most environmental professionals—from landscape architects and urban planners, to park managers and staff of environmental consulting firms—will encounter historic preservation in their work. Redesigning a streetscape in a historic district, preparing an Environmental Assessment, rehabilitating an old park with use of public funds, or simply a desire to maintain historic character are just some cases where it is necessary to be familiar with historic preservation philosophy, methods, and regulations.  

LSA 481/681 will provide students an introduction to the fundamentals of historic preservation as they are applied to cultural landscapes and programs of the National Park Service. The course will review preservation philosophy, history, and legislation at the federal, state, and local levels, and explore methods of inventory, analysis, and treatment of cultural landscapes.  Coursework will include weekly readings, lectures and in-class discussion, and a semester project.

The course will prepare students for the thematic spring studio in cultural landscape preseration (not offered regularly).

Click here for a syllabus from spring 2016.

Spring 2017: Tuesday-Thursdays, 9:30-10:50, Marshall 327

Instructor:  John Auwaerter, Co-Director, SUNY ESF Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation
Partner, Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation

For more information:

jeauwaer@esf.edu, 470-6995, Marshall 405

Enrollment is limited to 18. Permission of instructor is not required (incorrect in catalog)

LSA 470/670 Spring 2017 Section 06

Thematic Studio in Cultural Landscape Preservation, Urban Planning & Design, and Landscape Ecology

Instructors: Richard Hawks, Christine Capella Peters

Designing a New National Park: Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, Auburn, New York

This studio explores planning and design issues in the transition of the historic cultural landscape of the Harriet Tubman site in Auburn, New York into a unit of the National Park System. Harriet Tubman (ca.1822-1913), one of the country’s leading abolitionists and humanitarians known as the “Moses of her people,” was born a slave in Maryland and moved to Upstate New York during her work on the Underground Railroad, a covert network that brought slaves freedom. Her humanitarian work after the Civil War culminated in her establishment of a “Home for the Aged” on her rural property just outside the city of Auburn. 

The studio is envisioned as a multi-disciplinary collaborative project. It is a component of a current research project of the SUNY ESF Center for Cultural Landscape Preservation, which has completed a site inventory and mapping of the existing park landscape. Community engagement will be undertaken with the assistance of the ESF Center for Community Design Research, and ecological restoration will be addressed through collaboration with the ESF Department of Environmental and Forest Biology. The studio will also work closely with the City of Auburn, community leaders, and National Park Service staff.

Course Objectives

The studio will address historic preservation through the lenses of site design, natural resource management, and urban planning, with objectives that include reestablishing the historic agricultural character of the landscape, restoring the natural ecology, enhancing visitor services and programming, and integrating the park with other historic sites in Auburn. Students will have the opportunity to explore specific topics while gaining an understanding of their interrelationship. Topic areas to be explored include inventory methods and design guidelines for historic landscapes; alignment with National Park Service resource management and interpretive programs; transportation planning; site design for roads, parking, trails, storm water management, and security; planting design; wayfinding and interpretation; and ecological issues pertaining to forest and agricultural landscape restoration, invasive species management, and hydrology.

Project Site

Congress authorized Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in December 2014, and the 32-acre park is presently in the process of being established. New development includes a state-funded visitor center that is planned for completion when the new Harriet Tubman $20 bill is issued in 2020. The new park is comprised of two non-contiguous properties that will remain in part under private ownership. The main portion of the site on South Street (Route 34) in Auburn contains the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged established in 1895 on a 24-acre farm purchased by Tubman and owned by the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Zion Church since 1903. An adjoining seven-acre farm lot Tubman acquired in 1859, purchased by the church in ca. 1995, contains her brick residence that was rebuilt in 1903. The park also includes the former AME Zion church where Tubman worshipped, a Queen Anne-style building constructed in 1891 and located in Auburn about a mile away from the main site. Nearby is Tubman’s grave in Fort Hill Cemetery.


National Park Service Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation

No current internship opportunities


No current opportunities