27 Superintendent’s Residence

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

 

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SUPERINTENDENT’S RESIDENCE

Superintendent’s Residence, plan view

In 1932 Merel Sager described the Superintendent’s Residence as “… one of the most attractive residences in the National Park Service.”(8) In terms of site planning and use of plant materials, period design principles for estate (residential) planning were employed. Located on a knoll at the extreme north end of the headquarters district “… a magnificent view towards the slopes of Garfield [Peak]” was possible from the site. Considerable “groups of [adjacent] hemlock…” provided an effective framing device so that shade and shadow would augment an asymmetrical appearance. “The location is also nicely screened from the road, it being only possible to get a very occasional glimpse of the building as one travels the main highway.”(9)

The structure, built of massive stone masonry using the techniques developed by Sager, relied upon elements of form and scale to harmonize with the natural environment. Still evident are foundation plantings such as twinberry, spirea, Scouler’s willow, and mountain ash installed by Civilian Conservation Corps crews as part of the 1932-34 “naturalization” program. Flagstone walkways provide “formal” access and control foot traffic from the parking area to the residence. A large rolling meadow east of the house is also a fundamental element of the site. Suggesting openness and freedom, the character of the meadow allowed the distant view to be part of the site, expanding the sense of natural setting and context.

Superintendent’s Residence, southeast view

Today, the relatively unaltered residence and site is an exquisite example of rustic architecture and naturalistic design, and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Physical history of the district and documentation by the Historic American Building Survey provides evidence that the designed landscape of the residence may merit comparable recognition as a cultural landscape. Current use as seasonal housing and increased visitor use heightens the need for preservation management to mitigate any loss of landscape integrity.


TREATMENT ALTERNATIVES

1. No action/maintenance or status quo: continue existing maintenance programs for features including maintenance of the spatial and visual character of the meadow. Preservation of the view corridor to Garfield Peak and between the residence and Rim Drive access road is essential to the design intent and integrity of the original plan.

National Historic Landmark plaque for Superintendent’s Residence

2. Enhance the historic landscape through reestablishment of historic 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 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.

Meadow at the Superintendent’s Residence, looking east