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Effort to make Cornish site a National Historical Park moves forward

Union Leader Correspondent

October 04. 2017 10:09PM
Efforts to have Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site reclassified as a National Historical Park was passed unanimously by the House earlier this week. (COURTESY)

CORNISH — The effort to have Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site reclassified as a National Historical Park was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives.

U.S. Rep. Ann Kuster proposed the legislation to redesignate Saint-Gaudens as a National Historical Park earlier this year.

Christina Marts, deputy superintendent, of Saint-Gaudens, said Tuesday the new designation reflects the size and complexity of Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, which is not only the site of the historic home gardens, art work and studios of famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens, but also consists of a trail network that snakes through the 190-acre property that includes Cornish Arts Colony and the Blow-Me-Down Farm property. Blow-Me-Down Farm is the historic site of the Cornish Art Colony.

The bill was the result of an effort between congressional representatives working with members of Friends of Saint-Gaudens, Marts said.

“It doesn’t have a fiscal impact on the National Park and it doesn’t change our management approach at all. It’s largely a change in distinction for greater public understanding,” Marts said of the complexity and breadth of the park.

“As one of the foremost American sculptors of the 19th century, Saint-Gaudens left a lasting legacy on our country’s artistic heritage, which continues to be cherished at our historic site in Cornish,” Kuster said in a statement Monday afternoon. “Since its authorization by Congress in 1964 and establishment a year later, the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site has blossomed into a popular tourist attraction and location for local artists and musicians to share their talents. However, the present name, which designates this location as a historic site, is no longer the most appropriate or useful to accurately portray the complexity of this site.”

The 190 acres includes gardens, trails and the largest collection of works by Saint-Gaudens. The site also features other art and related programs and activities, including summer concerts, contemporary exhibitions, sculpture workshops, interactive sculpture exhibits and opera performances.

Kuster told Congress Monday Saint-Gaudens is much more than a historic site.

“It is a living remembrance to the great American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the artistic legacy that he has left behind,” Kuster said.

Monday night the Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 401-0. The bill has moved on to the U.S. Senate for a vote.

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