In 2004 the Indianapolis Park and Boulevard System was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, after a concerted effort was made by local, state, and national preservation officials and a local landscape architecture firm, Storrow Kinsella Associates. At 3,474 acres, it is the state’s largest single National Register listing.
The designation will likely lead to the preservation of roads, bridges, structures, and plantings, according to Meg Storrow, principal at Storrow Kinsella. “Today the park system is in fair condition, but the connecting boulevard system is fragmented,” she observes. Her firm is working with the Indianapolis Department of Public Works to repair a section of the network as a demonstration project.
The city also will likely seek preservation grants to rehabilitate parkway landscapes and landmark bridges. The first steps, however, will be to restore views, control invasive plants, and strengthen the system’s identity. The Kessler plan links five cultural districts and more than fifty historic districts and sites that are either listed or eligible for inclusion on the National Register. A steering group is exploring ways of more visibly tying the Kessler system with some of these nationally recognized historic landscapes, such as Oldfields, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.
The Library of American Landscape History, Inc., founded in 1992, is a not-for-profit organization that produces books and exhibitions about North American landscape history. LALH