This paper investigates the decline of a millpond once prized as much for natural beauty as for its role in local American history. Preserved as parkland for almost a century, Evans Pond is located along the Cooper River in southern New Jersey. My paper analyzes several examples of commercial and amateur photographs of Evans Pond and its dam structures at the turn the 20th century. I propose that this imagery offers insight into a “poetics of place” surrounding the millpond as people witnessed its transition from agricultural to "official" recreational use. My own imagery of the site over the past decade presents a contemporary interpretation of the millpond park. While Evans Pond’s environmental decline is undeniably linked to conditions in the greater Cooper River Watershed of which it is part, I conclude that its predicament in the 21st century is exacerbated by neglect of the site’s historic heritage: the remedy may be greater social awareness. I support my research with select references to art works, essays, and exhibitions on the theme of society and environment since the 1960s. More generally, my project may help illuminate the long-term complexities of “preserved” land, at Evans Pond and elsewhere.
|Keywords:||Historic Landscape, Parkland, Photography|
Artist and Independent Scholar, Pratt Institute, New York, NY, USA