Fort Vancouver
Cultural Landscape Report
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Administrative and Political Context

During this period, the size of the military reservation of Vancouver Barracks was significantly reduced, and its operations refocused primarily on reserve military activities. In a series of land transactions over a period of years, the Department of the Interior and the City of Vancouver acquired most of the south part of the reservation, below East Fifth Street. On June 19, 1948, Congress designated part of the former site of the Hudson's Bay Company, including the stockade area, as a National Monument On June 30, 1961 the boundaries were revised, and the monument was redesignated Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Beginning in 1947, extensive archaeological and historical research relating to the Hudson's Bay Company site was performed for the National Park Service, and reconstruction of the historic stockade to the period 1846, began. In the late 1940s, the City of Vancouver expanded its municipal airport onto the former military reservation, and a number of new airport facilities were built on the east edge of the former reservation.

Late in January of 1946, the Army Transportation Corps announced Vancouver Barracks excess to the needs of the army and the post ceased to be active army installation. On April 30, the property was placed in the custody of the Corps of Engineers; the reservation was slated for transfer to the War Assets Administration, which was appointed trustee to distribute surplus Vancouver Barracks property, but various areas of Vancouver Barracks were later withdrawn by the army. In March of 1947, about sixty-four acres were reactivated as a military post and designated to serve as headquarters for reserve training in the Pacific Northwest.

In 1915 the War Department had designated the site of the Hudson's Bay Company Fort Vancouver post as a National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act, but the recognition was allowed to lapse or was withdrawn. During the 1920s and '30s, as the centennial of the fort's establishment approached, a federation of local citizens, historical societies and governmental agencies attempted to obtain Congressional authority and money to restore the Hudson's Bay Company stockade, resulting in the passage of two laws authorizing construction, one in 1925 and another in 1938, but with no funding provisions.

When the War Assets Administration declared Vancouver Barracks Military Reservation to be surplus in 1946, local and state historical societies lobbied for legislation to obtain the site. In March of 1947 the War Assets Administration transferred a portion of the old Fort Plain site to the City of Vancouver for its municipal airport, but conflicting claims with the National Park Service, which wanted to obtain the historic Hudson's Bay Company lands for a National Monument, delayed recording the quit-claim deed until 1949. In the interval, on June 19, 1948, Fort Vancouver National Monument was established by Congressional action (62 Stat. 532), including ninety acres of land on old Fort Plain. As part of the agreement leading to enactment of the bill, the National Park Service granted the City of Vancouver a navigation easement over the site of the old stockade. The agreement was made necessary as a requirement before the War Assets Administration would release the site. [1218]

On May 19, 1949, the WAA transferred administration of 53.453 acres of the military reservation to the Department of the Interior. It consisted of two parcels of land-approximately eight acres in the vicinity of the stockade site, and a little over forty-five acres between East Fifth Street and East Evergreen Boulevard, including most of the Vancouver Barracks parade grounds. An aviation easement for the city of Vancouver was part of the transfer, and a restriction was placed on the Park Service which disallowed any buildings or structures above ground. In the 1950s the U.S. Army was permitted to use almost three acres of National Park Service land on which several barracks next to the parade grounds were located; as part of the agreement, the Department of the Army transferred a little over nine acres to the Park Service, which included the remainder of the stockade site. On June 30, 1954 the Secretary of the Interior officially dedicated Fort Vancouver National Monument.

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Last Updated: 27-Oct-2003