Should Four Seasons Total Landscaping be added to the National Register of Historic Places? According to an online petition, more than 4,300 people think so. “We as a nation need to remember where the travesty of the Trump administration died with a whimper,” Sheridan Hurd, who started the petition, writes on change.org.
First, some backstory: On November 7, shortly before the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election was called for Joe Biden, Donald Trump tweeted that his lawyers would be hosting a press conference in Philadelphia. The location, however, caused mass confusion—he initially said the conference would happen at the “Four Seasons, Philadelphia,” but later clarified that he didn’t mean the five-star hotel that recently opened in the city’s tallest building. He actually meant Four Seasons Total Landscaping, a seemingly innocuous small business located between an adult bookstore and a crematorium ten miles away in the city’s industrial outskirts.
The drab location seemed a peculiar place for Trump’s campaign to stage a press conference, especially to convince voters that he still stood a chance of winning an election that was quickly turning against his favor. Many wondered if Trump had actually intended to book the Four Seasons Hotel and had made a mistake when sharing its location. (The hotel even tweeted a correction.)To make matters worse, his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who was backdropped by a wall of newly obsolete Trump-Pence campaign signage, insisted that Trump wouldn’t concede, baselessly claimed that Pennsylvania’s ballots had been tampered with, and insisted that the campaign would file lawsuits because Republican observers weren’t allowed to inspect ballots. Despite Giuliani’s claims, there’s currently no evidence of significant voter fraud, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Election Infrastructure Government Coordinating Council even declared the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.”
Widespread hilarity and social media mockery ensued, with many viewing the spectacle as a poignant metaphor of the Trump campaign’s impending failure. The design critic Justin Davidson, writing for Curbed, summed up the scene with poetic prose. “Four Seasons Total Landscaping joins the slabs of forlorn border wall and the graffiti-encrusted bathroom of Lafayette Square as the real monuments of an administration intent on ugliness and pathetic facades. The photos that emerged from the event had the tawdriness of America’s worst cityscapes and the richness of an allegorical painting. The sound system’s snarl of cables lay sloppily piled on the asphalt, the emblem of every garbled message. At the center of it all, a small man behind a cheap lectern trying to persuade a tired nation that this gimcrack spectacle must never shut down.”
Despite the Trump campaign’s logistical buffoonery, Four Seasons Total Landscaping made the most out of the spectacle. The company’s CEO, Marie Siravo, clarified on social media that her business—now catapulted into the public’s consciousness—isn’t pro-Trump, but would have been honored to host a news conference for any presidential candidate. “We strongly believe in America and in democracy,” the company said in a statement. The day after the conference, Four Seasons introduced a line of T-shirts, hoodies, stickers, face masks, and other gewgaws featuring the slogans “Lawn and Order” and “Make America Rake Again.” It also tweeted an image of its now-famous parking lot for use as a background on Zoom meetings and even hired a “freelance brand invigorator” to bolster its newfound social media fame.
But does the location even qualify as historic? According to the National Park Service, places can be added to the National Register because of architectural or historical significance, including association with noteworthy people or events. The 1966 National Historic Preservation Act stipulates that anyone can begin the process of nominating a property for inclusion. An Old Slater Mill complex, located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, was the first property to join the list.
Petition signers argue that while the property doesn’t qualify as noteworthy architecture, its inextricable ties to Trump’s failed presidential campaign should make it worthy. “This is a truly historic location,” wrote James Cole, who signed the petition. “It marks the end of a vapid, inept, fascist regime in the most transparent way. What better mark of pure American charlatanism than this could there be?” Even if the petition ultimately fails, support is reportedly building for Siravo to be named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. We’ll be satisfied either way.