Capitol Park is significant as a landscape design, dating from 1827, that survives with its spatial structure intact. It is unique as an early example of a designed landscape and as a remarkable survivor within the Capitol complex. Although the park has accommodated a variety of functions, it continues to perform its primary function of providing a dignified setting for the State House.
The Park is the earliest known, consciously designed public ground in Maine, and was laid out the year the Legislature chose Augusta as the State Capitol. The Legislature and Governor’s Council acted quickly to improve the site and create an appropriate setting for the Maine State House. An appropriation was made in June and the task was completed by the end of November 1827.
An addition to the original design was in the same classical mode, resisting the then fashionable “naturalistic” style favored in landscape design and further balancing Charles Bulfinch’s classically styled State House that was completed in 1832. In 1842 a monument to Governor Enoch Lincoln, who died in 1829, was placed in the Park.
During the Civil War it was used by the militia as a camp and parade ground. When the troops left, the land was temporarily leased for agricultural use. By 1878 the site was restored to its former appearance.
The park structure remained much as it had always been until 1920 with the development of the Olmsted Brothers’ proposal for improvements to the Capitol Complex. The 1920 scheme incorporated the original spatial structure overlayed with a socially oriented design. The plan incorporated civic and recreational features and expanded to include the adjacent city-owned Augusta driving park. Only portions of that plan were implemented.
The Park is on the National Register of Historic Places in Augusta.
Condensed and edited from the National Park Service nomination by the Maine Historic Preservation Commission. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/nrhp/text/89000252.PDF (accessed January 24, 2015)