Resources 1984 – J. Physical Changes from 1930 to 1931

Historic Resource Study, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, 1984

X. Construction of Government Buildings and Landscaping in Crater Lake National Park


J. Physical Changes from 1930 to 1931

Substantially aiding park development during this period was the growth of the budget under President Herbert Hoover. As more money came to the Park Service, more development was planned, and more architects and landscape architects were needed in the Landscape Division. The enlarged staff had no training in non-intrusive architecture; in the course of developing its expertise and plans of action, Thomas Vint became the controlling figure in the NPS rustic architecture program. He managed to achieve a good working relationship between the architects, who understood general building design, and the landscape men who were sensitive to the environment in which these buildings would be placed.

As the staff enlarged, parks in the west were organized into districts composed of one or more parks and monuments, with a landscape architect assigned to each district. Merel S. Sager worked primarily in the Pacific Coast parks, especially Sequoia, Lassen Volcanic, and Crater Lake. These field men generally prepared preliminary development plans, sometimes getting assistance from an architect in the San Francisco office, where final plans and specifications were usually prepared.

From 1928 to 1932 most building projects were basic park facilities, such as administration buildings, utility areas, employee housing, entrance kiosks, restrooms, information stations, interpretive shelters, or wilderness patrol cabins. These were facilities necessary for the control, supervision, and maintenance of an area. They had only practical functions, so all were planned without frills.

The 1931 season produced many important structures in western parks. From 1931 to 1932 Crater Lake was the scene of one of the most comprehensive rustic architecture programs ever undertaken by the National Park Service. [29] The area was part of Sager’s field district, but because of the large-scale building program, he obtained help as needed from architects in the San Francisco office. Sager wanted high rustic quality in every building. Responding to local topographical and climatic conditions, Sager chose massive stone masonry as the central architectural theme at Crater Lake, and experimented with the use of wall stones of unprecendented size. He first attempted this type of construction on the Sinnott Memorial Museum (Bldg. #067) in 1930-31.

Of the approximately $32,500, slated for erection of buildings, landscaping, and installation of water systems during the season of 1930, $10,000 was to go toward erection of the Sinnott Memorial Building on Victor Rock. It was to measure forty by forty feet and be located on a cliff of rock about 100 feet below the rim. The outer walls would be rough rock to conform to the surrounding landscape. Inside walls would be cement finish with a ceiling supported by Log beams. A large observation platform in front of the building would be covered with a cantilever roof of log construction. A workroom, 12 x 14 feet, would be provided under the museum roof and be reached by a concealed stairway of rock. The structure was to be used as a museum and observation station for educational and scenic purposes. Money was authorized by Congress for its construction in memory of the late Oregon Congressman Nicholas J. Sinnott in honor of his service to the state and to Crater Lake National Park. [30] The Carnegie Corporation donated $5,000 for furnishing the building and installing equipment.