Curator of Historic Landscapes
Lyndhurst seeks its first Curator of Historic Landscapes to provide onsite leadership and management of its 67-acre historic landscape and to engage local and national communities to participate in the stewardship and enjoyment of this National Historic Landmark. Lyndhurst’s Hudson River-adjacent landscape is highly significant and well-preserved but little known to garden afficionados or within the horticultural community. This is an opportunity for the new Curator of Historic Landscapes to build a robust horticultural practice at Lyndhurst, engage multiple community stakeholders and create national visibility for this little-known but seminal American landscape. Less than 25 miles from New York City situated on the widest point on the Lower Hudson River, Lyndhurst is in a band of other significant historic landscape properties including Wave Hill, The New York Botanical Garden, Untermyer Garden, Kykuit, the Rockefeller Preserve and Stone Barns.
The Curator of Historic Landscapes reports to the Executive Director of Lyndhurst and will need to balance priorities in landscape preservation, horticulture, education, community engagement and visitor experience with the many other programmatic and interpretive objectives of this vibrant historic site. The Curator participates in an ambitious property-wide restoration program that will include ongoing recreation of major landscape features including a rose/perennial garden, a kitchen/flower garden, a lilac allee and multiple native plant and pollinator gardens. Restoration activities will also include the installation of historic fountains, 19th century marble garden furniture and, ultimately, the restoration of one of the earliest and largest Lord and Burnham greenhouses.
Notably, the Curator of Historic Landscapes is responsible for interpreting the Lyndhurst landscape in new and engaging ways that appeal to and attract a broad and diverse audience. As a key public face of Lyndhurst to the horticultural community and to local stakeholder groups, the Curator utilizes excellent communication skills to serve as a passionate advocate for Lyndhurst’s landscape, working effectively and diplomatically to build relationships both outside and within the organization. Key to success in this position is having a developed aesthetic sensibility to the inherent beauty of picturesque historic landscapes and an ability to translate that sense into a way that is accessible to the general public. This is an opportunity for the Curator to create and grow a practice on a significant site near New York City in the lower Hudson River Valley.
This position is grant funded for a period of two years from the date of hire, with potential to become an ongoing position based on performance and increased revenues, and subject to the availability of continued funding.
The landscape has roots in the 17th century Dutch first contact with native peoples and is likely the only remaining landscape design of Alexander Jackson Davis, the noted 19th century architect who partnered extensively with landscape pioneer Andrew Jackson Downing. The landscape includes mature flowering specimen trees and shrubs, a rose and perennial garden, an 1881 Lord and Burnham greenhouse frame, once the largest in the world, and extensive wood and marble seating groups as well as fountains by Frederick MacMonnies. The property is bisected by two major public walking trails, the Old Croton Aqueduct and the Westchester RiverWalk and is essentially always open to the public.
The 67-acre parcel is the full original footprint of the Lyndhurst estate and is extremely well documented and largely intact. Photographs from the 1860s and a topographical map from 1870 document the post-Civil War expansion of the landscape, heavily influenced by the completion of Central Park. Extensive photographic documentation of the landscape was conducted by Mattie Edwards Hewitt in 1920. A recently discovered color home movie from 1942 provides extensive documentation of the landscape prior to its post-World War II demise. The landscape was added to successively but never completely redesigned and, as such, is a catalog of changing American attitudes towards landscape design from the early 19th century through present day. The landscape is pivotal to Lyndhurst’s mission of interpreting the development of unique American cultural attitudes and how our approach to landscape design has evolved and, in many ways, returned to the sustainable practices of the earliest landscapers.
- Provides leadership and guidance to maintain and develop Lyndhurst’s historic landscape as a cohesive unit and ensures that the landscape appeals to broad audiences.
Possesses and uses a thorough understanding of plant care, management of trees and shrubs for health and safety, landscape design and installation, landscape maintenance, management of exotic invasive plants, and pest/disease management techniques.
- Balances between strategic planning for landscape preservation and future restoration projects versus daily custodial aspects of grounds management.
- Utilizes an existing historic landscape report covering more than 175 years of planting at Lyndhurst to restore now-missing sections of the landscape.
- Ensures that Lyndhurst’s landscape infrastructure (walkways, stairs, deer fencing, garden furniture, fountains and garden structures, plantings, and equipment needed for garden work) is maintained at a level that provides a consistently safe and pleasant experience for visitors; hires and supervises contractors, seasonal workers and interns needed to accomplish these goals.
- Establishes and maintains professional and cordial relations with appropriate vendors, organizations, and individuals regionally and nationally, nurturing professional relationships within the broader botanical and ecological community network.
- Recognizes the opportunity to completely formulate the horticultural practice at a significant National Historic Landmark.
- Interacts and collaborates with Lyndhurst’s staff in support of its mission.
- Participates in fundraising efforts, as requested, providing the horticultural vision and passion needed to develop long-standing relationships and reach out to potential supporters.
- Provides information for and participates, as requested, in the annual budget and planning process, particularly with regard to infrastructure and the plant collection, including both short and long-term needs.
- Provides insight, content, and editorial support for various publications, interpretative signage, and marketing as required.
Works collaboratively with Lyndhurst’s visitor’s services department to ensure smooth and efficient long-term and day-to-day operation of the Lyndhurst landscape for tours and passive recreation.
Supervises and recruits, trains seasonal staff and works collaboratively with existing buildings and grounds staff.
- Participates in monthly weekend on-call duties, as needed.
- Supervises, recruits, trains, and manages outdoor volunteers.
- Oversees curriculum development that covers such topics as healthy foodways, sustainable landscape practices and utilization of native plants to further engage families with the landscape.
- Works with existing volunteer groups that help maintain the rose garden, fern garden and two rock gardens.
- Undertakes restoration of the 2.5-acre kitchen garden as an educational tool for families.
- Developing programs that make Lyndhurst’s landscape a welcoming place for all communities.
- Responsible for working with tribal authorities to develop a land acknowledgment and commensurate interpretive programs.
- Oversees multi-million-dollar grant-funded historic landscape restoration projects including recreation of the historic perennial garden, landscaping in front of the restored tree house, restoring landscape features along the main entry drive and installing fountains and marble seating in front of the greenhouse.
- In conjunction with other partner organizations, restoring and maintaining landscape features in an adjacent 25-acre historic park that provides parking and trail access to Lyndhurst.
- Identifies and interfaces with restoration and installation professionals to install and care for marble, cast iron and bronze garden furniture and statuary.
- Assists and collaborates with restoration and buildings staff on major campus-wide restoration projects to buildings that have a landscape component.
- Requires a bachelor’s or master’s degree in horticulture, plant/agricultural sciences, landscape architecture, natural resources/ecosystem management or public horticulture. Individuals with demonstrated work experience in arboriculture, horticulture, land stewardship, facility management, etc. are encouraged to apply. A combination of education and experience can be substituted for the requirements described above.
- Possesses a thorough understanding of botany, threats to the flora of the northeast, horticultural techniques and practice, native plant care, management of the trees and shrubs and pest/disease management techniques.
8 years’ experience in garden setting required, experience working in a public garden or other public amenity preferred.
- Knowledge of, or willingness to learn, educational and visitor engagement techniques, particularly as it relates to interpreting cultural landscapes for the public.
- Knowledge of, or willingness to learn, American horticultural history, particularly the history of cultural landscapes of the 19th and 20th century.
- Must have experience working with appropriate garden tools and implements, including safety regulations.
- Advanced analytical and problem-solving skills, including issue identification and prioritization.
- Advanced project-management skills, including project budgeting, staffing and planning. Ability to achieve results with general supervision.
- Effective presentation skills. Excellent writing, spelling, grammar, and proofreading skills, as well as strong verbal communication and customer service skills. Strong organizational skills. Excellent attention to detail.
- Experience successfully managing key stakeholders and relationships. Proven ability to collaborate across departments to implement processes and achieve results. Track record of building and maintaining productive relationships with multiple stakeholders.
- Demonstrated success in engaging culturally diverse colleagues and stakeholders. Bi-lingual language skills a plus. Ties to culturally diverse affinity groups, professional organizations, or related associations are a plus. Able to talk effectively about identities such as race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class, ability, or gender in plain, specific terms as they relate to the workplace and cultural heritage.
- Ability to prioritize, multi-task efficiently and respond to a high volume of ongoing requests in a timely fashion. Ability to adapt and be flexible in a dynamic work environment. Ability to work effectively with frequent interruptions required. Able to handle frequently changing and/or unscheduled tasks with accuracy. Entrepreneurial spirit and skill set a plus.
- Proven ability to continually develop skills related to use of rapidly changing technology and communications best practices.
- Must have operating knowledge of MS Office.
- Must demonstrate strong communication skills; must present evidence of skills: past presentations, papers, etc.
- Must demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively and diplomatically with others, including providing supervision for volunteers, and other staff as assigned.
- Possess a valid Driver's License.
- Must be able to meet the demanding physical requirements of the job. It requires the ability to move equipment to various locations within the gardens that may not be accessible via motor vehicle and to climb ladders. The employee must occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds. The employee must be able to work both inside and outside, including outdoor work in inclement weather (heat/cold, rain/snow
Pay & Benefits
This is a full-time, exempt level position, eligible for full benefits, including health, dental and life insurance, retirement, and 3+ weeks of vacation, plus sick time and holidays.
The National Trust and its subsidiaries require all staff to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters (with limited exceptions for religious or medical reasons).
Hiring Range: $65,000-70,000 per year
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Website: Apply Online