The Blue Ridge Parkway announces the release of the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Developed Area Management Plan. The plan, approved by National Park Service (NPS) Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin, records the decision of the NPS to provide a long-term management strategy for the historic natural and cultural resources in and around the Memorial Park, located at Milepost 294 on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“This plan will protect the Cone Estate and its special values into perpetuity and provide quality visitor services and access,” stated Mark Woods, Parkway Superintendent. “The planning process has been a monumental effort and we appreciate all the public input we have received. We now want to move forward with actions in the Plan that are critical to the preservation and enjoyment of this important resource.”
The Memorial Park was established by Moses Cone as a gentleman’s country retreat in the style popular among American industrialists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The estate is one of the largest country estates in western North Carolina and includes a large manor house, known as Flat Top, surrounded by orchards, pastures, meadows, lakes, ponds, trails, roads, and forests. Visitors who explore the trails and carriage roads of the estate gain an understanding of the influence of this textile giant, and the role that the landscape architecture movement and country estate movement had on life in some parts of the Appalachian mountains. The Memorial Park, transferred to the NPS in 1950 and along with the neighboring Price Park area, comprises the largest developed area set aside for public recreation on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The new management plan provides a comprehensive approach for resource and visitor use management of the Memorial Park. The plan focuses on the Cone family, the estate, and their life there from 1899 to 1947. In addition, the plan outlines management directions in the following areas:
- Cultural Resource Emphasis– Moses H. Cone Memorial Park will be protected and maintained as a National Register Historic District containing one of the finest Country Place era landscapes in the National Park System. An emphasis will be placed on the rehabilitation and interpretation of the cultural landscape and features of the estate (1899-1947) where feasible.
- Natural Resource Emphasis– The woodlands that have been released to natural succession since 1947 will continue to be managed in that manner. Sensitive natural areas will be managed in accordance with NPS policies. Natural resource values will be balanced with protection and maintenance of the extant cultural landscape features known to have been established by Moses and Bertha Cone.
- Visitor Experience Emphasis– Maintained visitor access to and within the Memorial Park will continue using existing roads, paths, and road trails. Primary visitor services and programs will continue at the Flat Top Manor House. Historic structures’ interior spaces might be modified to accommodate interpretive exhibits to facilitate visitors overall understanding of the Cone family, the estate, as well as the Southern textile industry and Moses Cone’s role in denim manufacturing. Park education programs will be conducted both on and off-site with a strong focus on web-based outreach to a global audience. The primary change recommended to the Memorial Park’s infrastructure is an expansion of the current parking area behind the Flat Top Manor House.
Public involvement has been a cornerstone of the planning process. Woods states, “This final plan integrates the ideas of a passionate public with proven stewardship and management practices to create a sound vision for the future of this resource.” The plan also outlines that implementation of the management strategies will require capital investment through some public/private partnerships to augment park resources and capacity. As the National Park Service approaches its Centennial in 2016, it is this type of partnership that will insure implementation of various aspects of the plan as well as a second century of stewardship of America’s national park resources.
For a copy of the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park Developed Area Management Plan FONSI, please visit http://parkplanning.nps.