Cultural Landscape Recommendations: Park Headquarters at Munson Valley, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Munson Valley Historic District was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988 as part of a multiple resource nomination for Crater Lake National Park. The following statement of significance and integrity draws on information from the National Register nomination form, a Historic American Building Survey report documenting the district, and the “Analysis and Evaluation” section of this document.
Although Crater Lake was established as the nation’s sixth national park in 1902, development of an administrative headquarters for the park did not occur until 1926. During this time, a camp located in upper Munson Valley and used by the Corps road crews, gained increased use as summer headquarters for National Park Service employees. Over the next fifteen years at the Government Camp site, the park embarked on one of the most ambitious rustic architecture programs ever undertaken by the National Park Service. Designers transformed an open landscape of infertile pumice soils into an administrative complex comprised of three distinct areas of use. Native stone building construction, use of indigenous plant materials, and careful siting of structures resulted in a highly manipulated designed landscape that was “naturalistic” in character.
Landscape architects Thomas Vint, Merel Sager, and Francis Lange were key practitioners of the Rustic style and influential in shaping the Munson Valley landscape. Their drawings, photographs, and monthly project completion reports provide a wealth of detailed formation about the site’s development and insight into the philosophy of non-intrusive design known as Rustic. Landscape architects Sager and Lange directed general construction and landscape work on the site using Civilian Conservation Corps and Emergency Conservation Work crews. Their responsibilities were far-reaching ranging from design and construction supervision of trails and grading, and finishing portions of Rim Drive, to supervising major construction projects at the Rim and Munson Valley. The park’s “naturalization” program, instituted by Sager, was implemented throughout the park, creating a consistent and cohesive appearance in all the developed areas. Lange continued implementation of the program through additional planting and maintenance of those materials.
By 1941, the Munson Valley area was “home to the most concentrated and coherent expression of Rustic Architecture in the park.” The structures and related landscape formed one of the most extensive developments ever undertaken by the Park Service using this type of naturalistic design.(5)
The Munson Valley Historic District, designed and built between 1926-1941, is significant as a historic designed landscape under National Register Criterion A: for its association with events that made significant contributions to the broad patterns of history; under Criterion B: for its association with the lives of persons significant in our past; under Criterion C: for the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of design; and under Criterion D: for the important historic information the site has yielded and is likely to yield.