By Amanda Thibault ‘17
This post is part of a series featuring behind-the-scenes dispatches from our Pohanka interns working on the front lines of history this summer as interpreters, archivists, and preservationists. See here for the introduction to the series.
Historical preservation has always been a problematic issue for the National Park Service. Park officials must find a balance between preserving and exploiting historical landscapes. At battlefields such as Antietam, the National Park Service has issued a policy of landscape freezing to help visitors understand the historical significance of the park. Landscape freezing refers to preserving the landscape of a particular historical period in time. Antietam has issued a policy of restoring the landscape to the eve of the battle to the maximum extent possible. However, there are many problems facing this plan, like removing the roads that allow visitors to travel through the battlefield and form an emotional connection to the site.
The problems of historical preservation are pronounced here at Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY, especially at the Elizabeth Cady Stanton property. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was the primary figure behind the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. During tours of the property where Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her husband Henry Stanton, and her seven children lived from 1847 to 1862 only ten people are allowed in the house at once because of its small size. If there is a larger tour, the remaining visitors have to wait outside. Today, the only remnants of the Stanton property are the horse chestnut tree in front of the property and fruit trees located in the northeast corner of property. The orchard, flower and vegetable gardens, the circular driveway, the outdoor playground for the children, the barn and other outbuildings no longer exist. I believe the National Park Service should recreate as much of the original landscape as possible so visitors can roam around while waiting to go inside the house. Continue reading “Historical Preservation: The Elizabeth Cady Stanton Property”