Hugh Miller

How did you become interested in landscape preservation?

Well my interest in landscapes came from my interest in gardening through my grandmother and neighbors as I was growing up.  And then when I was working within the National Park Service it became apparent to me that all the interest in dealing with preservation was focused on buildings.  Though I’m an architect by training, that relationship to the place and the space of the landscape came into focus.

What was your role in the development of NPS policies guiding the protection of cultural landscapes?

My task when I was on the staff of the [National Park Service] chief historical architect, and this was in the early 1970s, I was charged with reviewing demolition requests for abandoned buildings within the park system. Realizing that not only were buildings abandoned but also the landscape.  Realizing that the policies to return park lands to natural process was not recognizing the cultural heritage of the place, that in many cases, particularly I found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park, and the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area the Native Americans were manipulating the land through burning for open space and for settlement.  Dutch colonial landscapes in the Delaware Water Gap were being abandoned and I raised the question about should landscapes be a category or a resource to be protected.  In 1980 we were able to put that idea into the National Park Service internal policy for the parks that cultural landscapes should be recognized and developed preservation and maintenance strategies.

Why is the Alliance important to you?

The Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation is important to me because of gathering of kindred souls to have conversations about the breath, the width, and the depth of cultural landscapes and their preservation strategies.  There is always a new take, opportunity to see old friends, and meet new people with common interests.

Recorded at the 2011 Alliance for Historic Landscape Preservation Annual Meeting in Fort Worth, Texas

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