The Historic Landscape at Gibraltar - A Proposal for Its Preservation

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University of Delaware
Gibraltar is an historically significant house and early twentieth-century estate garden within the city of Wilmington, Delaware. Its landscape merits preservation based on its association with Hugh Rodney Sharp, one of Delaware's preeminent preservationists and philanthropists; Marian Cruger Coffin, who was among the first and most accomplished women landscape architects in the United States; and the Brinckle family, important landowners in nineteenth-century greater Wilmington.* By definition, Gibraltar is a designed historic landscape, embodying distinctive characteristics of the American Country Place Era, the period of its greatest significance. In addition to its historic importance, the property forms an essential segment of a contemporary stretch of "greenspace" along Route 52, at the north entrance to the city of Wilmington. Landscape preservation involves four major steps: historical research and documentation, analysis of the property's existing conditions, selection and planning of appropriate treatment methods, and treatment of the landscape. This proposal for the preservation of Gibraltar's landscape was developed in accordance with these four steps, documenting Gibraltar's evolution from the early 1800s until the recent past, evaluating its historic significance, recording existing conditions, and making recommendations for the treatment of the property. Based on information gathered from historic documents, oral history, on-site work, and a variety of published sources, the author recommends the preservation of Gibraltar's landscape as a 1920s historic estate garden reflecting the style of the American Country Place Era. In addition, Gibraltar should be saved as a memorial to its creator and owner, Hugh Rodney Sharp, and as a piece of art, designed by professional landscape architect Marian Cruger Coffin. The preservation work should be carried out in harmony with the design intent of Coffin and Sharp, taking into account contemporary needs of users and visitors and the financial viability of the project.
History - public garden, History - Gibraltar, Historic landscape preservation, Marian Cruger Coffin, Hugh Rodney Sharp