03 Historic Resources – Statement of Significance

Historic Resources at Crater Lake National Park

 Statement of Significance


Seven structures and other individual features described in this amendment are eligible for listing under Criterion A (for their association with the history and development of Crater Lake National Park), Criterion B (for their association with site planning and design by four NPS landscape architects: Charles Punchard, Thomas Vint, Merel Sager, and Francis Lange), Criterion C (as outstanding examples of naturalistic design, in the areas of architecture and landscape architecture), and Criterion D (the district yields important information about the precepts of naturalistic planting and rustic design in Crater Lake National Park; these resources contribute significant information relating to planning concepts prevalent in the 1920s and 1930s).

See the original form, especially pages 3-7 in this section, for a summary of National Park Service planning and development at Rim Village. That submission, however, lacked an inventory of designed landscape features in the district and could not fully address the significance of these resources. The subsequent cultural landscape report further developed two previously established themes of historical significance, rustic architecture and park development, by relating them to NPS efforts aimed at creating a designed landscape for Rim Village between 1927 and 1941. A copy of this document is included as part of the amendment, as is the Statement of Historic Contexts in a related multiple property form prepared by the NPS in 1995.

Development of a framework with which to assess the individual features of a designed historic landscape at Rim Village led to reexamination of two buildings as contributing structures. [1] An inventory card submitted with the original form stated that the Kiser Studio would not contribute to a National Register nomination emphasizing the park’s rustic architecture. [2] Since the original form was prepared, however, the building’s significance (which previously rested on its association with scenic photographer Fred Kiser) has been reexamined in light of new information about the NPS role in its design.

Stephen Mather, first director of the NPS, appointed Charles P. Punchard, Jr., to be the agency’s first landscape architect in 1918. Punchard served alone in this capacity until his death two years later, but during this period provided a philosophical framework to guide future development in national parks while emphasizing the need for management aimed at preserving park landscapes. He influenced subsequent decisions by ensuring that developments were based on preconceived plans and provided landscape architects with an important role in locating park facilities. [3]

Punchard assisted in locating the Kiser Studio, but can also be credited with setting the parameters for its design. After reviewing Kiser’s proposal for a photography studio at Rim Village in early 1920, Punchard recommended that the park’s native stone which was “so interesting and works so well in buildings” be used as an architectural theme extending from the Crater Lake Lodge. [4] This countered Kiser’s original intention of building the structure only from logs, as the park’s entrance stations had been in 1917. Punchard also convinced Kiser to create a terrace effect on the studio’s north side to attract visitors, who would enjoy views of the lake from there. Kiser thereupon had a contractor erect a building whose allusion to the Arts and Crafts Movement was evident in its lower story walls of stone masonry, a wood frame upper story, and a porch on the lakeside where seating was available. When funds allowed the NPS to begin construction of a promenade with parapet wall several years later, the studio and its “terrace” were readily incorporated into the designed landscape. [5]