IFLA: Cultural Landscapes Committee

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Childs Park

Cultural Landscape Type: Designed

Project Name: Childs Park Cultural Landscape Report

Project Type: Planning Project, Cultural Landscape Report

Location: Pike County, Pennsylvania, U.S.

Cultural Landscape Size: 155 acres/62.7 hectares

Property Owner/Steward: Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, National Park Service

Funding: U.S. Government, National Park Service, $70,000 USD

Relevant Historical Dates: 1892 to 1930s

Historic Landscape Architect, Designers: N/A

Contact: Patricia M. O’Donnell, Principal, Heritage Landscapes, odonnell@iflaclc.org

Childs ParkChilds Park

Project Description:

Childs Park is a classic example of a scenic landscape park in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. Set in an area of rugged beauty, the historic designed landscape of Childs Park bridges the 19thand 20th centuries and, as an example of wilderness by design, parallels the emergence of large western parks in the United States. Now incorporated into the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, the 155-acre landscape consists of a dense hemlock ravine straddling Dingmans Creek and several spectacular waterfalls.  The property’s historical associations and deteriorated condition prompted the National Park Service to commission Heritage Landscapes to develop a comprehensive Cultural Landscape Report & Treatment Plan as part of rehabilitation efforts. Detailed research unraveled the previously obscure evolution of the park. In 1892, the park’s namesake George W. Childs highlighted natural and cultural features like waterfalls and the ruins of an early 18th century woolen mill to cultivate unique experiences and expose the wonders of nature to the public. In the 1930s, the Civilian Conservation Corps embellished the original park landscape with new plantings, timber pavilions, cabins, and other structures in the National Park Service Rustic design tradition.

Research by Heritage Landscapes revealed that many trails, overlooks, and other landscape features remain from the initial park layout in the informal and naturalistic style of nineteenth-century American urban parks under Olmstedian design principles. Fieldwork by Heritage Landscapes also discovered the sole remaining witness tree marking the original park boundary. In concluding the CLR, Heritage Landscapes collaborated with the NPS in a rehabilitation planning process that aims to regain and reconcile historic character, functionality, visitor comfort, and emergent impacts like flooding and forest blights. Rehabilitation will recapture aspects of early park character and highlight historic features of this popular recreation site.

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Conservation of cultural heritage in all its forms and historical periods is rooted in the values attributed to the heritage.

ICOMOS Nara Document on Authenticity, 1994