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Shelburne Farms

Heritage Tourism

Shelburne Farms
Shelburne, Vermont

Shelburne Farms was developed from the 1880s through the 1930s by Dr. W. Seward Webb and Lila Vanderbilt Webb as a combination of scenery and productivity in the pastoral and picturesque style. This style and its application to the lakefront property in Shelburne reflected the overall concepts proposed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. in a 1887 preliminary design for the property. Olmsted wrote to Webb in 1888 that Shelburne Farms had the potential to be one of the “most interesting and publicly valuable private work of the time on the American continent.” The 1,400 acre landscape of today is a remarkable historic ornamental farm serving a mission of environmental education and sustainability. Through the work of Heritage Landscape, heritage tourism has become a vital part of stewardship of the place to fulfill of the mission of the organization.

Heritage Landscapes conducted the first cultural landscape assessment of the property in the multi-disciplinary IMLS Conservation study. Conservation recommendations were based on the historic research findings, current conditions and opportunities for landscape character recapture. The Shelburne Farms Landscape Stewardship Plan explored the property from multiple perspectives, adding conservation interest in surrounding lands. The plan addresses improved circulation, refined activity centers, stabilized lake shore, woodland renewal, ecological protection and recapture of historic features. An important component of the stewardship plan is the approach to the site and the contextual visitor arrival experience through the nearby village center and conservation lands surrounding Shelburne Farms. Design and construction projects implemented to date include recapture of historic drive character and new visitor and event circulation at the Coach Barn, rehabilitation of the Welcome Center landscape, and a variety scenic modifications to lease-hold properties. Extensive mapping incorporated historic, current and future mapping of property ownership, land use, fields, forests, circulation, infrastructure and utilities. Heritage Landscapes also researched and studied documentary materials addressing the origins and evolution of the Breeding Barn Complex, which is envisioned as a residential learning campus hosting engaging programs addressing sustainability and environmental education. The project seeks to blend sustainable architecture and landscape with the historic resources. Heritage Landscapes work at Shelburne Farms has received two professional awards from the 2002 Vermont Public Spaces and the 2003 VT ASLA awards juries.

Shelburne Farms

Breeding Barn Complex, Campus Conservation Plan, 2004; Shelburne Farms Landscape Stewardship Plan, 2004; Entry Road and Dairy Barn Plantings; 2004; Coach Barn Parking Reorganization, 2002; Visitor Center Landscape Improvements, 2002; Scenic Plantings. 2001; National Landmark Nomination contributions, 2001; Lakeshore Drive Restoration, 2001; IMLS Conservation Assessment, 2000

Project Credits:
Heritage Landscapes, Preservation Landscape Architects & Planners with SAS Architects for Breeding Barn Complex Conservation Plan, and with Martin Tierney, Architects and Conservator for IMLS Conservation Assessment

Award-Winning Project