A Western Red Cedar, called the "Embracing Tree" in the plan, will be featured in the Vietnam Veterans Memorial proposed for the southwest corner of Willson Park at Cottage and State. The plan and design is at the Historic Landmarks Commission this week.
|The plan proposes to retain this Western Red Cedar|
The corner really is a dud, and just about anything would be an improvement. It's dull 1970s pathways and concrete aggregate. It lacks focus and is seemingly cluttered because no details are important. It's not really very legible.
|A dud corner: A dumpster, a bench, and a car|
SW Corner of Willson Park, November 2019
Happily, there's not much to object to in the plan, and the Staff Report recommends approval. Significantly, most trees would be protected, retained, and incorporated into the design. There didn't seem to be any schedule for construction, however.
|The plan protects nearly all the trees|
The only potential condition recommended in the Staff Report would involve the parade statutes installed in 1991, which might be moved for a Gold Star Family memorial. Interestingly, the artists own website appears to show a different location for the initial installation, so the sculpture might have moved once already. The 2010 State Capitol State Park General Park Plan contains a map with a label, "relocate childrens' statues," so another move seems consistent with the overall intent. (See Pete Helzer with it at the Waite fountain and Wikipedia with it on the slab.)
|This overstates today's east-west views|
(2010 General Park Plan)
Discussion of that parade unit and a Gold Star memorial, as well as the ongoing construction staging in the Walk of Flags area, might prompt more thought about the central east-west axis and the neglected Breyman Fountain, one of the oldest features still there. When the old Capitol's main entry faced west, this axis made sense, but with the new Capitol's rotation 90 degrees to face north, and the big additions on the south side of the original Capitol building, the axis was orphaned and made very secondary. The western terminus in the parking garage for the Executive Building (the second Post Office) also drains the axis of significance. Maybe nothing is left of that axis really, and it's all about the corners now. Still, it would be nice to have a stronger kind of trace, a ghost axis as it were, to hint at the grounds during the old Capitol's time.
The HLC convenes on Thursday the 19th.