Springfield, Missouri’s Lawrence Halprin-designed Park Central Square added to the National Register of Historic Places

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Springfield, Missouri’s Lawrence Halprin-designed Park Central Square added to the National Register of Historic Places

Springfield, Missouri’s Lawrence Halprin-designed Park Central Square added to the National Register of Historic Places
Feb 16, 2010
Media Only: Nord Wennerstrom
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Springfield, Missouri’s Lawrence Halprin-designed Park Central Square added to the National Register of Historic Places
 
Park Central Square is the First Halprin Designed work added to the National Register
 
Washington, D.C. (February 16, 2010) -- The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) today announced that Park Central Square in Springfield, Missouri, designed by Lawrence Halprin, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places. This is the first work by Halprin, a Presidential Medal of Arts winner, to be added to the National Register.
 
Jon Jarvis, Director of the National Park Service (NPS), made the designation official on February 5, 2010. This followed a decision on January 25, 2010, by Ms. Carol Shull, the Acting Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places, to approve the boundary expansion of the Springfield Public Square historic district to include Park Central Square. 
 
“The addition of Park Central Square to the National Register is an important milestone in recognizing the important legacy of modernist landscape architecture and the career of Lawrence Halprin,” said TCLF president Charles A. Birnbaum. “This is significant since only two years ago the Square was headed for destruction.”
 
Mark Miles, Director of the Missouri State Historic Preservation Office, which prepared and submitted the National Register nomination to NPS, notified Birnbaum of the designation.  Miles told Birnbaum he “hopes that the formal listing will give even more public credibility to the importance of Park Central Square.” He thanked TCLF for their “invaluable leadership in the whole struggle to preserve the Halprin project.”
 
In late 2007, Park Central Square Just was slated for a redesign that would have obliterated Halprin’s work. On December 15, 2007, Mrs. Ruth Kelley, a long-time property and business owner in downtown Springfield, Missouri, wrote a letter that appeared in the local newspaper, the News-Leader. She asked the city council to reconsider the proposed reconfiguration of the Park Central Square.  She opened her passionate plea asking the question:  “Would you discard a painting by Fredric Remington? Our Park Central fountain was designed by America's foremost landscape artist, Lawrence Halprin of San Francisco.” TCLF board member Brice Maryman saw the letter and contacted Birnbaum. That letter triggered a series of events leading to the National Register designation. Additional elements of the timeline are available at:
http://tclf.org/landslides/forgotten-halprin-designed-park-central-square-crossroads

 

Background on Park Central Square
In 1969, the Downtown Springfield Association set out to find a design firm to improve a barren, paved vehicular area that had recently been given park status as a memorial to the Dorsey Heer family. The square is different from traditional squares: the streets enter it at the center of each side of the square rather than from its corners. The Association hired Lawrence Halprin and Associates, and this became the firm’s second Missouri project, following their Kansas City Civic Center Master Plan. The project was completed in 1974, during an era that outdoor shopping malls quickly were gaining popularity, and public spaces such as this were also becoming cultural centers, with large-scale art becoming incorporated.
The central feature of the square is a slightly depressed, paved, central plaza designed to cater to large civic gatherings. This plaza is surrounded by grass terraces, separated by concrete steps. A fountain constructed of Indiana limestone serves as its focal point. The design also includes ample seating areas; a pavilion influenced by Charles Moore’s work on Lovejoy; a sculpture by Aristedes Demetrious, who had collaborated on other Halprin projects; accent plantings, and site-specific street furniture. The plaza was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010 – the first such designation for a Lawrence Halprin-designed landscape.
 
Additional information about Lawrence Halprin and his legacy is available at www.tclf.org.
 
The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) is the only not-for-profit (501)(c)(3) foundation in America dedicated to increasing the public's awareness and understanding of the importance and irreplaceable legacy of its cultural landscapes.
 
Through education, technical assistance, and outreach, we broaden awareness of and support for historic landscapes nationwide in hopes of saving this diverse and priceless heritage for future generations.
 
 
 
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