The Village of Cold Spring, New York is set within a beautiful landscape along the Hudson River. Strewn about the bucolic landscape are the ruins of the West Point Foundry, begun by President James Madison for metal and brass production after the War of 1812. The 87-acre site housing the foundry was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the spring of 2011 and now, with partial funding assistance from a Preserve America grant and in collaboration with Scenic Hudson, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects has enhanced the historic locale as a sustainably-designed preservation park. Last week, the West Point Foundry Preserve Park officially opened to the public.
Famous for its development and manufacture of Parrott guns, the Union army and navy’s weapon of choice during the Civil War, and for its role in the United States’ Industrial Revolution, the West Point Foundry helped unite and progress America from 1817 to 1960, more than a century and a half. The site is home to housing and machine ruins, bridges, dams, paths, roadbeds, rail tracks, and a dock from the original foundry. However, the natural forest and marsh wetlands in which they stand are also of preservation significance.
In the design of the Foundry Preserve Park, Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects took care to “respect the site’s history and ecology.” Combining existing pathways and rail lines to create a walking narrative among the ruins and placing educational displays near important sites, the landscape architecture attempts the least intrusive path for visitors. Exhibitions at the park’s Foundry Cove illuminate on marsh renewal and the natural wildlife. Working with the Michigan Technological University’s Industrial History and Archeology Program, the firm researched for a design that allowed sustainability of the industrial history and of the valley environment.
“Good design is often a matter of working with, not competing with, nature,” Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects said in a statement. “The historic Village of Cold Spring marks one of the most stunning geologic expanses of the Hudson River. When Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects designed the West Point Foundry Preserve, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, we let the landscape be our guide.”