Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site to re-plant historic Orchard and undertake other cultural landscape rehabilitation work

Oyster Bay, NY — Work at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site will begin this spring to replant the historic fruit orchard, rehabilitate historic farm fields, and install historic landscape features including split rail fences and an arbor at the Pet Cemetery.

According to Superintendent Tom Ross, the goal of the landscape rehabilitation work is to present the farming landscape that Theodore Roosevelt knew when he lived at the site. “Sagamore Hill was a working farm during Roosevelt’s lifetime, with fenced pastures, open fields and a large orchard, but over time, the fruit trees reached the end of their life spans and open areas were overgrown,” said Ross. “I think the visitors will be very pleased to see a flourishing orchard, beautiful farm fields and the return of historic features such as split rail fences and the historic pet cemetery arbor.”

The orchard project will remove dead and dying trees and replant approximately 40 trees, selected from historic varieties which would have been available during Roosevelt’s lifetime. The newly replanted trees will stand between 4’-6’ feet tall and include Baldwin, Roxbury Russetts, and Winesap apple and Seckel pear varieties. The trees will be planted among 20 surviving fruit trees to reestablish the historic grid pattern of the orchard. Over time the orchard will become an important interpretive feature to learn about historic orchards and fruit varieties which the family would have enjoyed.

Other landscape projects will rehabilitate historic farm fields by removing non-historic trees, undergrowth and invasive plants and replanting with native grass varieties. Historic split rail fence sections will be re-introduced to their original locations on the property. Fields will be maintained to preserve an open character and to protect wildlife habitat for nesting birds and terrapins. Visitors will gain a better understanding and appreciation of the farm landscape that Roosevelt enjoyed so much through horseback riding and his famous “point to point walks” with his children.

The current non-historic pet cemetery arbor will be replaced with a more historically accurate arbor. The new arch shaped arbor will stand 7.5’ tall, 9’ wide, and 6’ long and contain two wooden benches flanking either side. A creeping rose variety will be planted on either side of the arbor and trained to eventually cover the structure as it had been historically.

Several aspects of the work will be integrated with National Park Service training programs that are designed to strengthen the knowledge and skills of field staff. Using these projects as learning opportunities, employees from parks in the greater northeast will be assisting with accomplishing the work while learning valuable skills in orchard and landscape management.

The landscape rehabilitation projects will complement the recently completed rehabilitation of four historic farm outbuildings and several cultural landscape projects including the reconstruction of the site’s windmill, rehabilitation of the historic macadam road stone wall and the rehabilitation of the herring bone pattern brick driveway under the Roosevelt home’s porte-cochere. The historic landscape projects are a cornerstone of the park’s 2008 General Management Plan.

The site’s cultural landscape rehabilitation is one of the major initiatives called for in the park’s General Management Plan (GMP) and Environmental Impact Statement. The plan is the result of a multi-year planning process (2003-2008), during the course of which the NPS held numerous public meetings and considered written comments from the public which was overwhelming supportive of the plan. The cultural landscape rehabilitation projects have been planned and designed by the National Park Service’s Olmsted Center for Landscape Preservation based on the recommendations from the GMP and the site’s Cultural Landscape Treatment Plan. To view a copy of Sagamore Hill’s General Management Plan visit www.nps.gov/sahi and then search under management and then park planning. For more information on the projects, please contact Chief of Cultural Resources Amy Verone at 516-922-4271 x-17.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, located at 12 Sagamore Hill Road, Oyster Bay, New York, is a unit of the National Park Service. The site was established by Congress in 1962 to preserve and interpret the structures, landscape, collections and other cultural resources associated with Theodore Roosevelt’s home in Oyster Bay, New York, to ensure that future generations understand and appreciate the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, his family and the significant events associated with him. Tours of the Theodore Roosevelt Home are by guided tour only. Visitors may only enter the Theodore Roosevelt Home by guided tour with a National Park Ranger or NPS volunteer. Tours of the house are offered on the hour beginning at 10:00am. The last tour of the day is offered at 4:00pm. Please note: Tours are limited to fourteen persons per group. On weekends and holidays tours often sell out 1 to 2 hours in advance. Admission is $5.00 for adults while 15 and younger are free.

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