Preserving The Past

The new site would provide a diversity of scale. It had to accommodate large events with multiple vendors and performances, yet still provide smaller, personal space for reflection, reading, and lunching. The park also needed to supply comfortable passage for library patrons strolling through. Visitors needed to be able to traverse the park without feeling as though they had entered the personal space of those gathered. Finally, the new site needed to make its users feel secure with clear views into and throughout the space. Dark corners and tight, shadowy spaces were eliminated.

Constructing The Space

The park entranceway was dramatically widened by partial removal of an existing low brick wall. In turn, visitors were greeted by a much larger, more public-scale entrance. This ingress drew a linear connection with Locust Lane plaza across the street. A brick crosswalk strengthened the visual axis and claimed the area as

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pedestrian space. The remaining low wall was cleaned and repointed to match the weathered mortar of the library, and a period wrought-iron fence was added to the top. The library commissioned local artist Bart Walter to create a sculpture to serve as the focal point of the park entrance. Today, this sculpture, Wild Imaginings, is observable to passersby and serves as the visual terminus from the far end of Locust Lane to the east. Carroll County artist Jo Israelson is sculpting a second work this fall.

Throughout the park, selective removal of overgrown landscaping made way for clear understory views. The mature linden and maple trees were limbed up, creating a high canopy for light. The result is an increased feeling of airy openness throughout. A vast, sweeping lawn is accented by wide, curved walks that mingle with planted beds at the park borders and provide universal accessibility. Iron benches dot the landscape and create a series of more personal-scale spaces set back from the larger public lawn. Period iron lampposts reflect the historic standard of Main Street.

A sizeable, curvilinear deck flanks the library’s main entrance to the north and serves as a performance stage for children’s activities, lectures, concerts, and dance performances. The lawn flows into the space, providing informal seating for spectators. Between the stage and library structure, copious landscaping creates a natural backdrop for performances. Plant selections were made to consider eastern exposure and shade tolerance. Azaleas and oakleaf hydrangea are accented by hostas, coral bells, and sweet woodruff. Mid-story, river birch and serviceberry maintain loose texture and allow for uninhibited views within the park.

Past And Present

While considered somewhat small, the Mary Lou Dewey Sculpture Park, named in honor of the late Mary Lou Dewey, an advocate for libraries who assisted in the founding of the Carroll County library system, serves a variety of functions large and small, formal and informal. The park plays host to hundreds of visitors attending events throughout the year, and still ensures a quiet, urban oasis for daily users. The park continues to meet the needs of the contemporary community, while simultaneously preserving the historic nature of downtown Westminster and providing a city green on Main Street USA.

Kevin Riley is a Project Landscape Architect at Site Resources Inc., a comprehensive land planning and site design firm near Baltimore, Md.  He can be reached at kriley@siteresourcesinc.com.

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Related posts:

  1. Preserving The Past For The Future
  2. The “Mane” Attraction
  3. Life In A Fishbowl
  4. Free Time
  5. Park Perks

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