Historic New England recently restored the main driveway and historic ha-ha wall at the Codman Estate in Lincoln, allowing visitors to once again experience the formal entry to the property from Codman Road as it was originally intended.
Over time, the formal driveway at the Codman Estate leading from Codman Road to the front of the main house had strayed from its original lines, and curves obscured the view to the main house that visitors were intended to experience. Before work on the roadway or ha-ha wall could begin, it was necessary to prune several trees along the drive and to straighten and resurface the driveway. Historic New England property care staff used existing piers at the western entrance and historic photographs to determine the roadway's original location. Once the road work was complete, restoration of the wall began. Some areas were raised to create a consistent height across the entire length of the wall. Other sections were repaired. Missing stones were replaced with matching stones found on site.
The final stages of the project recreated the ha-ha earthwork detail with new topsoil and then seeding the area to create a grassy "shoulder" angled from the road bed to meet the top of the wall. For more details on this project, and to see before and after images as well as photographs of the work in progress, view our ha-ha wall slide show.
This project is part of a larger multi-year effort to restore many features of this important historic landscape. The project was made possible by Historic New England's Preservation Maintenance Fund, established in 2009, when Historic New England received the largest grant in its history, a total of $3 million over three years, to address preservation maintenance needs for its historic properties.
About Historic New England
The Codman Estate is one of Historic New England's thirty-six sites throughout the region. As the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation, Historic New England brings history to life while preserving the past for everyone interested in exploring the New England experience from the seventeenth century to today. The organization shares the region's history through vast collections, publications, public programs, museum properties, archives, and family stories that document more than 400 years of life in New England. For more information visit HistoricNewEngland.org.
What is a ha-ha wall?
A ha-ha wall is an eighteenth and nineteenth-century landscape device made, popular in English country estates and intended to create a visual illusion. The wall itself is a retaining wall separating two levels of lawn space. The upper level is usually the formal side with the country house, while the lower level is often a meadow or field with animals grazing. From the house, the view into the field is uninterrupted as the grassy lawn runs right to the top of the retaining wall and the eye is then carried without interruption into the field. But the cows or sheep in the meadow cannot access the upper level because the elevation change and retaining wall stand in their way.
Historic New England is celebrating its centennial. Discover all that's happening across the region this year at http://www.HistoricNewEngland.org/Centennial