Cultural Landscape Report in Progress

Hi Stratford Hall blog followers, my name is Tim Barrett. I am a Master of Historic Preservation student in the University of Georgia’s (UGA) College of Environment and Design. A summer assistantship has brought me to Stratford Hall (SH). This opportunity has been made possible through from a recent multi-year partnership between SH and UGA. The result of this partnership will be reports, recommendations, and management strategies to improve the interpretation and stewardship of the SH cultural landscape.

Initially, a cultural landscape inventory, or “CLI,” is being developed with assistance from the Jaeger Company (a private landscape architecture firm based in Georgia). A CLI typically includes an inventory of historic features and an assessment of their condition, integrity, and significance. This field has become familiar to me through an internship with the National Park Service’s Cultural Landscape Program, nonprofit consulting work supporting the acquisition of historic sites, and a mapping project with National Geographic Society staff on the Chesapeake’s “Treasured Landscapes.” However, the depth and richness of SH’s cultural landscape is unparalleled. From its beginnings, SH has been defined by its people and landscape, and undoubtedly these forces have had a profound influence on American history. Where else can you find early 18th century buildings, nesting eagles, old sunken roads, world-class geological resources, two miles of contiguous waterfront, and 1900+ acres affording unspoiled historic viewsheds all in one place?

The SH cultural landscape inventory is still in its early stages. Thus far, we have begun to identify and document the historic landscape features that can be found throughout SH’s significant land holdings. Field work has been both fun and revealing and has even required occasional bushwhacking through some of the property’s remote, densely-forested areas whose landscape has stories to tell but is no longer accessible by roadway or trail. Here, the ticks and chiggers thrive, the poison ivy is thick, and the summer sun is unforgiving. Sunscreen and calamine lotion are constant companions.

I have had the privilege to work with and learn from Stratford’s exceptional staff, including former education director, Ken McFarland, and research and library collections director, Judy Hynson. Ken and Judy’s collective knowledge and commitment to Stratford’s landscape resources is truly remarkable. This work has taught me a lot about the proud legacy of stewardship that SH has enjoyed over its long and storied past and the people who have made it possible. Living and working on the site has been an experience that I will always remember and treasure.

Please stay tuned for research developments, state of the art maps depicting SH’s cultural landscape, and perhaps even a few surprises as the work of this exciting partnership continues to unfold in the fall and beyond.