Sustainable Future of Washington Crossing Historic Park

AIA Philadelphia


Wednesday, October 28, 2015
1 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.50

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Washington Crossing Historic Park is a 500-acre riverfront park, in two sections, created in the 1920s to commemorate General George Washington's successful Christmas surprise offensive during the War for Independence, starting with the daring crossing of the Delaware River in a blizzard in 1776. The park was planned as a memorial landscape, with outdoor recreation and the state's official Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve. The park contains several historic buildings including McConkey’s Ferry Inn, where Washington himself embarked, Taylorsville which grew at the ferry landing, and the upriver Thompson-Neely farmstead, which served supporting roles during the military encampment. Support facilities include the renovated visitor center, a boat barn, and park infrastructure. Throughout the project, multi-format outreach to stakeholders and community members built a broad foundation for team recommendations and for partnerships between the stewarding agency, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Project scope was to develop an economically sustainable plan to guide adaptive building reuse, land management, programming and partnership building over the next 10-15 years. The consultant team accepted PHMC's challenge that Washington Crossing should provide exemplary historic, natural environmental and educational experiences, while at the same time shifting from reliance on diminishing state funding to proactive generation of new resources. The team's guiding principles for the site include sustainable land management, strengthened features of the memorial park design, and enriched relationship to the canal towpath, which connects the separate sections of the park. The master plan reinforces the memorial park design, which gave form to intangible values and abstractions of the historic event, while improving current relationships. Restoring the Memorial Gateway and Point of Embarkation will clarify both connection to river and the arrival path to the Visitors Center. Recommendations for economic sustainability focus on adaptive reuse of Taylorsville buildings, partnerships and programs to attract expanded and repeat park use. Commercial adaptive reuse of Taylorsville houses will offer services and retail for visitors and the community. A new Village Square will provide a civic space linking park and village, and signaling arrival at the park for visiting drivers. The Friends of Washington Crossing Historic Park have lost no time in implementation, increasing pro-gramming for school groups and the public, hosting a weekly farmer’s market and semi-annual craft fair.