25 Administrative Complex

Cultural Landscape Recommendations: Park Headquarters at Munson Valley, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon


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Remnant plant materials, 1990

Since the establishment of Munson Valley as the headquarters for U.S. Army Corps of Engineer road crews in 1913, the plaza area has been a focal point for development. Development of Government Camp took “advantage of topography and forest screening to place out of sight almost every building that is not of direct concern to the visitor.”(6) The only buildings planned to be in sight were the Administration Building and Ranger Dormitory. Today, six structures compose the complex, the most prominent being the Mess Hall (Canfield Bldg.), the Ranger Dormitory (Steel Center) and the Administration Building (Sager Bldg.). Located near the Mess Hall are three other buildings that are part of this cluster, including two comfort stations and a meat house.

Construction of the ellipse and circular drive in 1934 formally established the plaza as the main visitor contact point. Adaptation of the site for winter use and closure of the south entrance brought some change in design and the loss of several small-scale design elements. The plaza, however, stands as a coherent example of rustic architecture and naturalistic design. The composition and relationship between buildings and plant materials, scale, and symmetry suggest a semblance of order and unity with the natural surroundings. The asymmetrical Ranger Dormitory, a balance of two irregular structural masses, is located at the western edge of the plaza. In contrast, the symmetrical Administration Building balances equal structural masses around a central axis and frames the north side of the plaza. These structures, along with the overall layout and organization of the plaza, create a somewhat formal and structured landscape. The plaza area as a whole clearly articulates one of Lange’s design principles that “…government units [should be set] on high points of land for a commanding view.”(7)

Mess Hall (Canfield Building)


1. No action/maintenance or status quo:

continue existing maintenance programs for features including maintenance of the historic site through preservation of the view corridor between the administrative plaza and Munson road. Preservation of this view corridor is essential to the design intent and integrity of the original plan and should be retained.

2. Enhance the historic landscape through reestablishment or landscape features:

prepare a cultural landscape report to assess and evaluate all historic landscape features and patterns, and to determine historic integrity and site functions. Integrate historic and contemporary site issues to develop and implement a restorative restoration planting plan. The plan should employ naturalistic design principles described in 1929-38 park documents, including tree placement to create shadows, and the general placement of native plant materials in natural groupings and associations. Prepare a preservation maintenance plan with recommendations for stabilization of remnant plant materials, routine and winter maintenance considerations.