By Tami Scott | Monday, April 19, 2021
Last month, we celebrated World Landscape Architecture Month. The ASLA’s theme for this year was #GrowingTogether. What better example of growing together than highlighting the very first planned community development of its kind in the northeast? It was built in the mid-1950s right here in our home county of Onondaga, and it still exists today. In fact, two of Klepper, Hahn & Hyatt’s employees currently live in this well-established neighborhood.
The original landscape architect involved in designing the plans for Bayberry envisioned a residential community to include an elementary school, churches, a shopping plaza, a community pool, and even a recreational skating area by the Seneca River that runs parallel to the development (unfortunately, the rink never came to fruition).
Bernard J. Albin was 27 years old at the time of this immense project and prepared the original plans for NYC-based Mayer and Whittlesey Architects having had just five years of prior experience with another firm working on large housing projects, parks, and parkways.
“Having received my training as a landscape architect at Syracuse University in the college now known as the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry, I was excited by the opportunity of planning
a new community not far from Onondaga Lake,” Albin wrote in a published letter dated Aug. 7, 1996, to the Syracuse Herald-Journal.
At the time when the conceptual plans were made, the land was pristine – Albin had a blank canvas with an imagination that soared — and people responded. It was the place to live. And nobody cared the roads weren’t even yet paved!
Neighbors relaxed together with barbecues and block parties, kids played outside from dusk ‘til dawn, the Bayberry Plaza boasted both a grocery store and a movie theatre. Green areas provided “cut-throughs” to the swimming pool, the church, and the school so kids could walk or ride their bikes without the threat of traffic. Even my cat was known to be on the school grounds from time to time (yes, I am one of the two KHH employees who lives there now – and grew up there, as well!).
Life. I can’t speak for Albin or the others involved, but I believe that’s what they had in mind when they drew up their plans. People living, loving, playing, working, learning, worshipping, recreating.
And now, 65 years later, much has changed since the original years, but much also remains. Bayberry is still a beloved community. Neighbors still ask to borrow a cup of sugar or a stick of butter, kids still shoot hoops in the green areas, and couples and families still walk their dogs on the side street “loops.” In essence, life is still being lived and memories are still being made.
Again, to quote Albin from the same letter written 25 years ago: “Not long ago on a trip to Syracuse University, I took the opportunity to visit Bayberry and was pleased by how gracefully it had matured. I noted with pleasure how satisfied the residents were with their environment.”
There is no doubt that to this day, people are still growing together in Bayberry — thanks to the original visionaries who saw the potential and made it happen.