Fort Vancouver
Cultural Landscape Report
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Fort Vancouver National Monument was established in 1948 to protect and maintain "the site of the original Hudson's Bay stockade and sufficient surrounding land to preserve the historical features of the area...", and preserve "the historic parade ground of the later U.S. Army post." The purpose of preserving the site was to interpret its role as a primary center of economic, social, cultural, and military development in the Pacific Northwest, and the part it played in our nation's westward expansion. [1] To fulfill these interpretive objectives, the National Park Service (NPS) initiated archeological investigations in the late 1940s and early 1950s to relocate and outline the fort stockade and major buildings inside the stockade. In 1961, the park's importance was further recognized through a Congressional Act that authorized enlarging the park and redesignating the monument as a historic site.

Following this expansion, the park embarked on a plan to go beyond interpreting the site as an on-going archeological excavation and begin to interpret the site through accurate historical reconstructions. In 1966, the north wall and a portion of the east wall were reconstructed. Beginning in 1972, and continuing to the present, another period of reconstruction ensued that led to the completion of the stockade, eight key buildings inside the stockade, and some small-scale features. In addition to these reconstructions, the historic scene was enhanced by reestablishing landscape features such as the historic north gate road, an interpretive orchard and garden, and post and rail fences.

These stockade reconstructions have done much to advance the interpretation of the site as a major Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) fur-trading center, but have been limited in terms of interpreting the fort's vast agricultural and industrial operations. The 1978 Master Plan recognized the need to expand the historic scene through general proposals that included restoring the cultivated fields, garden, and orchard; restoring East Fifth Street to its historic appearance; continuing land acquisition of key historic property; and providing interpretive facilities at the Columbia River waterfront area. While reconstructions of buildings within the stockade proceeded, few of the Master Plan's other proposals were implemented.

In recent years, the need for an updated Master Plan has arisen due to changes in park policy, contemporary program needs, and through on-going research which has led to a better understanding of the fort's history. This project will serve as a technical document that will supplement the Master Plan development process. The intent of this project is to identify and evaluate all significant cultural landscape resources and provide management recommendations for the preservation and enhancement of the historic scene at Fort Vancouver ca. 1844/46. The study investigates and documents a range of treatments for reestablishing key landscape components and features that contribute to interpreting a full spectrum of HBC operations and activities.

The scope of work for this report did not include any preliminary findings associated with the congressionally mandated study addressing the possible establishment of Vancouver National Historical Reserve. The purpose of the Commission study is to examine the historic, cultural, natural, and recreational significance of resources in the Vancouver, Washington area, and to determine the feasibility of a historical reserve. [2] Historic resources considered in the study include Fort Vancouver N.H.S., Vancouver Barracks, Pearson Airpark, and the W.W.I. Kaiser Shipyards. The Vancouver Historical Study Commission was in progress when the cultural landscape report was completed. Because it was impossible to surmise when or if Congress would approve of the historical reserve and what form the reserve would take, this report does not address the idea of a Historical Reserve, but concentrates on preservation treatment for Fort Vancouver's HBC cultural landscape resources. If at a future date, the Vancouver National Historical Reserve becomes a reality, recommendations and/or concepts of the cultural landscape plan described in this report may require additional review and/or revision.

One outcome of not including the Vancouver Historical Study Commission issues concerns NPS property in the eastern portion of the Fort Vancouver N.H.S. that is currently part of the municipal airport, Pearson Airpark. The Cultural Landscape Report utilizes the existing legal agreement concerning Pearson Airpark. The Statutory Warranty Deed, signed April 4, 1972, authorized the NPS to purchase 72.57 acres from the city of Vancouver to the NPS, with a "reservation" clause allowing the City to use the property for thirty years (until 2002). The final design recommendations and cultural landscape plan for the Cultural Landscape Report are based on NPS resources after the year 2002, when the City has vacated the Pearson Airpark property. Again, if the Historical Reserve is recommended and approved by Congress, this plan will have to be revised to accommodate any Congressionally recognized Pearson Airpark historic resources.

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Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003