Fort Allen Park: Evolution of a 120-year-old landscape


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Fort Allen Park: Evolution of a 120-year-old landscape.
Authors: Martha Lyons Landscape Architecture LLC & Regina S. Leonard Architecture & Design.
Client: Friends of the Eastern Promenade.
Date: August 2011

Published in: Education, Business
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Fort Allen Park: Evolution of a 120-year-old landscape

  1. 1. Fort Allen ParkEvolution of a 120-year-old public landscapeMartha Lyon Landscape Architecture, LLCRegina S. Leonard, Landscape Architecture & DesignAugust 2011
  2. 2. …this spot, commanding a magnificent sea view…has proved one of the most popular resorts or our city during the summer months.” -Commissioners of Cemeteries and Public Grounds, 1894
  3. 3. Beginnings
  4. 4. 1796Portland’s first record of street tree planting was madeA line of poplars was set at the base of Munjoy Hill
  5. 5. 1807The Portland Observatory was constructed atop Munjoy Hill
  6. 6. Early Fortification
  7. 7. 1812-1815Portland constructed threeforts on the eastern peninsula:-Fort Burrows-Fort Lawrenceand-Fort Allen
  8. 8. Fort Allen stood above Fort Lawrence at Fish Point.It is the oldest remaining man-made fortification in the City of Portland.
  9. 9. Dawn of the Eastern Promenade
  10. 10. 1876 Bird’s Eye View of PortlandThe first acquisition of land by the City on the Promenade came in 1828The roadway had been constructed around Mount Joy by 1837Young elm trees stood along the road edge.
  11. 11. Walling’s 1851 map showed the Atlantic & St. LawrenceRailroad skirting the water’s edge at the base of theEastern Promenade.
  12. 12. The Victoria Warves werebuilt at the base of Fort Allenin the 1850s to accommodatethe Great Eastern steam ship.
  13. 13. To celebrate the 1860 arrival of Albert, Prince ofWales to Portland, the City constructed anelaborate archway and flight of carpeted woodensteps at Fort Allen.
  14. 14. In the 1870s, land at old Fort Allen belonged to the Grand Trunk Railway,the Deering Heirs, and F. W. Cummings. The Great Eastern wharvesstood at the foot of the fort.
  15. 15. City engineer William Goodwin prepared a revaluation atlasin 1882, and showed property ownership at the old fort. TheFessendens were relatives of the Deerings.
  16. 16. Birth of Fort Allen Park
  17. 17. “steps should be taken to secure the old Fort Allen lot, so called, on the Eastern Promenade…” Commissioners of Parks, Cemeteries & Public Grounds, 1890
  18. 18. The City purchased land fromHenry Deering, HarryFessenden and FrancisFessenden in 1890In 1891, Goodwin prepared thefirst site plan for Fort Allen Park.
  19. 19. The initial improvements made to the new park included the construction of a rustic shelter or “band stand,” designed by Albert Winslow Cobb and John Calvin Stevens. William Burrows built the structure at a cost of $350.00.
  20. 20. Initially, the park contained no circulation routes, only a sloping lawn dotted with boulders
  21. 21. Between 1890 and 1896, the City added several other amenities,including walkways, a loop drive, two overlook terraces, a flagpole, many benches, and pole lighting. The original earthen fort berms remained.
  22. 22. Cobblestone gutters (added in 1894) and plantings of flowering shrubs (added in 1897) further ornamented the park.
  23. 23. Tall elm trees stood along the Eastern Promenade, providing a strongouter edge to the park. Plantings within were kept low to preserve the views.
  24. 24. The City began to erect wrought iron fencing at the upper and lower terraces in 1896. Lower terrace fencing appeared in 1896, and upperterrace fencing followed in 1900. Plans to connect the two terraces via a set of broad central steps were in the works as early as 1896.
  25. 25. Rodman cannons, used in the Civil War, were acquired for the park in1900. (Note the houses standing along the park’s northern property line)
  26. 26. The Park Expands
  27. 27. Portland Mayor James Phinney Baxter, elected in 1892, voiced concern aboutthe extent of private ownership of land along the harbor side of the Promenade. He began advocating for the purchase of this land for use by the public.
  28. 28. By 1904, Baxter had made a deal with the Grand Trunk Railroad to swap land on the north side of Fort Allen park for land at the terminus of Commercial Street.Around the same time, Baxter engaged the Olmsted Brothers, landscape architects, to prepare a plan for the entire Eastern Promenade.
  29. 29. By the first decades of the 20th century, the elms planted in the mid 1800salong both sides of the Eastern Prom had reached significant height. Two rows stood along the west side, while one rimmed the east.
  30. 30. In 1911, the “Cummings Lot” was condemned for parkpurposes. The addition of thesmall parcel along the southern edge of the park, brought the total acreage to 4.55.
  31. 31. A “Memorial” Park
  32. 32. In 1913-1915, the gun from the battleship USS Maine was brought to Fort Allen Park and mounted in a concrete base. This effort launched a long tradition of siting memorials within the park landscape.
  33. 33. The Grand Army of the Republic placed a memorial bench in the parkin1926. (Note the small-scale beds of flowers and shrubs throughout.) In 1935, the City added the Jacob Cousins memorial to the park.
  34. 34. Modernization & Decline
  35. 35. Beginning in the 1930s, the City began to alter the historic design of the park, widening the roadway and overlook terrace, and replacing the cobblestone gutter with concrete curb and gutter.
  36. 36. In 1962, the mast, bell and navigation shield of the USS Portland wasinstalled as a memorial at the Park. The Arctic Explorers’ memorial, sited below the USS Portland, followed, and in 2003 a “temporary” memorial was created in honor of the 9/11 attacks.
  37. 37. In 1968, the Portland House was built on land abutting the south side ofthe park. At that time, the park plantings grew in a reverse pattern to what the City originally intended. Tall evergreens filled the park, while the outside edge stood barren.
  38. 38. A 1984 effort by the City parks department further eroded the historicalintegrity of the Fort Allen Park landscape. Crews removed the central and two perimeter walkways and straightened the loop road, and removed the wrought iron overlook fencing, replacing it with ornamental steel.
  39. 39. Rebirth
  40. 40. A 2004 master plan for the Eastern Promenade began to address thedegradation of the historic landscape at Fort Allen Park. It called for the restoration of the original plantings, and for the introduction of new plantings to soften the park edges.
  41. 41. The plan recommended replacing the contemporary steel fencing with an historic replica, modified to meet current building codes.
  42. 42. In 2006, a group of citizens concerned about the future of Fort Allen Park and the Eastern Promenade, formed the Friends of the Eastern Promenade. One of the group’s first projects was the completion of the Fort Allen Trail, located in the bed of the Grand Trunk Railway.
  43. 43. Period of Significance 1890 - 1930
  44. 44. Thank You Greater Portland Landmarks Maine Historical SocietyPortland Public Library – Portland RoomEngineering Archives – City of PortlandMaine Historic Preservation Commission Olmsted Archives Jeff Tarling & Joe Dumais Herb Adams andThe Friends of the Eastern Promenade