CONSTRUCTION HISTORY IN ARCHITECTURAL CONSERVATION: THE EXPOSED AGGREGATE, REINFORCED CONCRETE OF MERIDIAN HILL PARK
According to accounts by Horace Peaslee and John J. Earley, the work on the perimeter walls at Meridian Hill Park was performed as an experiment in a new construction technology based on careful aesthetic considerations. In 1930, Peaslee defended the experimental work at the park against allegations that he had wasted time and money at Meridian Hill Park. He championed the work: “Not only has the park esthetic and recreational value, but it has served as an experimental laboratory for the development of new concrete processes, the value of which to park and garden work throughout the country is being continually demonstrated” (Peaslee 1930b). The experimentation was necessary for the later development and improvement of the innovative techniques: “Casual observation shows the immense progress that has been made in both wall and walk construction since the beginning of the work. There is no comparison between the first walls and those of later development” (Peaslee 1930b). The dissemination of the new techniques originating at Meridian Hill Park was considered an important achievement of the work, contributing to concrete construction on a larger scale. Meridian Hill Park is often cited as the first project where Earley experimented with the techniques that he was to adapt and perfect for many other architectural demands throughout his career. Today, the concrete work is further valued for the insights it allows into the creative process of John Earley.