What is HALS?

Eisenhower JDS8

View of Eisenhower Park, Newport, RI – the 2017 HALS merit award winning project. Image by Jonathan Stevens


by Elena M. Pascarella, RLA, ASLA of Landscape Elements LLC

HALS documentation is one of three types of historic records maintained at the Library of Congress under the purview of the National Park Service. Other documentations include Historic American Building Surveys (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Records (HAER). HAER surveys have documented many historic roadways throughout the United States including the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut and Skyline Drive in Virginia.

HALS documentation was initiated because historians, architects and landscape architects working for the National Park Service realized that the HABS and HAER survey documentations were not adequately capturing the level of detail found in many historic landscapes.

Rhode Island has two documentations recorded with the NPS and in the Library of Congress.

During Spring semester 2016, Elena M. Pascarella, RLA, ASLA, principal of Landscape Elements, LLC worked with Professor Richard Sheridan’s Junior Landscape Architecture Studio at the University of Rhode Island to prepare a Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS) Documentation for Wilcox Park in Westerly, RI. Landscape Elements had previously worked on the master plan for Wilcox Park in 2006. This park is one of Rhode Island’s significant historic landscapes having been designed by two noted 19th Century landscape architects, Warren H. Manning and Arthur Shurcliff.

The 2016 HALS documentation submission for Wilcox Park was also entered into the 2016 HALS Challenge, a competition open to all landscape architectural firms in the US and Canada. Out of 48 submissions for 2016, the documentation for Wilcox Park received an honorable mention award.

The 2017 HALS documentation submission for Eisenhower Park earned RI its second merit award. Many thanks to the people who assisted with this project:  Tanya Kelly, Kate Dana, Jon Stevens and Acadia Stevens.

For more information about HALS, please visit