Maintaining A Legacy
An Administrative History of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park
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"Never Really Stopped for Long" Maintenance at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park

While the prospect of acquiring a memorial to George Rogers Clark and his Big Knives had tremendous appeal to the National Park Service, the agency inherited immense problems when it assumed responsibility for the park in 1967. First and foremost among these was maintenance of the memorial structure and complex. Within weeks of the structure's completion in the 1930s, it had begun to leak, and in the words of a team of officials who inspected the site in 1978, it "never really stopped for long." [1] For the Park Service, this meant an ongoing and seemingly unsolvable series of problems that consumed vast resources, drew large amounts of agency attention, and repeatedly recurred no matter what Park Service personnel accomplished or attempted.

At George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, maintenance became the dominant activity for park staff. The problems of upkeep predated the arrival of the agency and figured into every major decision concerning the memorial — from the argument for transfer of the memorial to the Park Service because the state had failed to maintain it, to the Park Service's effort to appease the local population by offering to use the money from the canceled visitor center for memorial maintenance. Situated as the primary obligation and focus of Park Service activity at the park, maintenance became the most important obligation of the agency at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. To the public, it reflected the seriousness of the approach of the Park Service; to the agency, maintaining the rotunda, the memorial structure, and environs presented an ongoing headache that in most circumstances overwhelmed every other facet of park management.

The roots of these problems dated from the inception of the idea of constructing the memorial. In late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century America, public buildings were designed to be important symbolic parts of a culture of veneration. Often mimicking or mirroring Greek or Roman design styles, such grandiose and expensive public buildings were testimonies to the success of the American Republic and to the moral right of democracy. They also stemmed from a time when labor was inexpensive and the construction standards for buildings and expectations of the public for their upkeep were less stringent than they later became.

The George Rogers Clark Memorial posed problems almost from the moment of its premature acceptance by the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission. On May 26, 1933, when contractor W.R. Heath informed the commission that the structure was complete, architect Frederick Hirons made a cursory inspection tour. He noted only the need for minor changes, and the commission accepted the building essentially as the Heath Company had offered it. But the building had been constructed hastily with second-rate materials substituted for the best available choices. The decision to accept the building without a thorough inspection set the stage for the ongoing series of maintenance problems that continued to plague the structure almost since the day it was accepted. [2]

Within six weeks of the acceptance of the memorial by the commission, water seepage into the memorial and the basement became a major problem. The initial leaks appeared throughout the basement in the area between the exterior columns and the outside wall of the rotunda as well as in the memorial itself from a small leak in the skylight. The commission turned to the Heath Construction Company, which tried to assign blame to the roofing contractor. Further inspection determined that the leakage resulted from, as Hirons noted, "imperfect construction and defective workmanship" on the stonework. [3]

The situation posed immediate problems. The water heater and the electrical fixtures in the basement both had been subjected to the leakage and the potential for further damage seemed real. The leakage through the skylight threatened to damage the bronze statue of Clark and the floor of the rotunda. Although commission staff and the building superintendent took emergency measures, it quickly became clear that the building would require additional work. [4]

The commission held the Heath Construction Company squarely responsible and company officials began to formulate a program in response to the problems. The initial effort was a stopgap measure; in April 1934, the company arranged to send workers to remove a number of joints in the terrace and to recaulk them. This limited measure failed to lead to any permanent solution of the problem. Other Heath Construction Company representatives tried different methods — all without even an inkling of genuine success. [5] The work was costly and the Heath Construction Company sought recompense from the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission. In a heated exchange at a June 12, 1934, meeting, Charles McGaughey, who represented the company because of the illness of W.R. Heath, argued that the leak was the commission's fault. Its choice of the Stanstead Granite instead of the Mount Airy Granite contributed to the problem, he charged, as did the "method of construction called for in the plans and specifications." McGaughey offered a thinly disguised threat. If the commission did not bear some of the responsibility for the problem, as well as some of the cost, then the Heath Construction Company would cease to seek ways to stop the seepage. [6]

Frederick Hirons countered McGaughey. From the architect's perspective, it was clear that the leakage stemmed from shortcomings in the performance of the contractor. Hirons believed that the circumferential joints neither had been grouted nor had been caulked in accordance with the contract specifications. At his insistence, the commission requested that the Heath Construction Company complete the specifications of the original contract. [7]

Early in the summer of 1934, the Heath Construction Company undertook a substantial waterproofing project, but it barely began to solve the problem when more rain highlighted new seepage. During a storm that dumped four inches of rain in late August 1934, nearly a month after the Heath Construction Company again had guaranteed that the joints had been recaulked and the leakage stopped, the custodian's office and the boiler room began to profusely leak. In December 1934, new seepage appeared, and by March 1935, the building superintendent had counted seventeen major points where water regularly was present. Besides the electrical equipment room, always a source of concern, the boiler and meter rooms were leaking, as were numerous other places. Water came running through the floodlight boxes and it was seeping through the granite floor joists. In places, pools of standing water remained on the floor. By 1936 the situation had worsened. The custodian's office was drenched; after storms the water stood as much as one-half inch deep on granite floors, and even the murals were threatened by leaks in the side walls. [8] The entire building seemed to gush water.

The Heath Construction Company continued to claim that the seepage was not its responsibility. Its communications with the commission emphasized the company's belief that substandard materials and faulty design were to blame for the problems. Even though the caulking work accomplished under its auspices had no evident effect on the problem, the company audaciously billed the commission for its waterproofing work, much of which in fact seemed to exacerbate existing problems. [9]

Despite the faulty work by the W. R. Heath Construction Company, the commission chose not to pursue legal remedies. Instead the commission allowed the company to escape the situation, leaving the memorial awash in water. Transitions in leadership within the commission may have played a role in its decisions. After Dr. Christopher B. Coleman resigned as executive secretary to become full-time director of the Indiana Historical Bureau in April 1935, he was replaced by Clem J. Richards, a commission member from Terre Haute. Richards stepped aside in favor of Simeon Fess, who lost his U.S. Senate seat in the 1934 Democratic landslide. After Fess died in the summer of 1936, D. Frank Culbertson assumed the secretariat. In the controversy over who should be awarded the contract for the structure in 1931, Culbertson had supported the use of Indiana limestone, a material prominent in Heath's bid. When it came time to decide upon legal action, Culbertson already had assumed the leadership of the commission. Rather than engage in a protracted lawsuit in Vincennes, Culbertson and the commission chose to absolve W. R. Heath Construction Company of any further obligations. [10]

By 1938, even Culbertson had to notice the continual leakage throughout the building. He and the commission hired C. W. Nothnagel, a structural consultant from Bedford, Indiana, to undertake another study of the moisture problem. Nothnagel determined that the earlier work had been deficient; flashing was missing in certain places, vertical joints in the granite had not been filled with mortar, and the grouting was improper. [11] All of these flaws in workmanship could have been attributed to the Heath Construction Company, but the commission again decided to pursue other solutions.

After a visit to the memorial, commission members worried that they had a potential scandal facing them. The tour revealed four-foot stalactites in the basement, a five-ton block of granite out of alignment as result of water damage near the top of the rotunda, and water stains on the interior walls of the rotunda as well as more ordinary damage. The newly built George Rogers Clark Memorial, gleaming a mere three years before at its dedication, was in abysmal condition. [12] The commission selected a new architectural firm, Schucker and Bixby of Vincennes, to complete a study of the memorial and its problems. This study offered new and substantially better information about the structure's problems. Schucker and Bixby determined that the leakage in the roof occurred through open joints in the circular wall. This had caused a significant increase in the circumference of the circular wall as well as numerous other problems in the years since the building had opened. In the basement, the architects found the leakage resulted from damage to the waterproof membrane which occurred when Heath Construction Company workers positioned the granite slabs and poured the pebble concrete. Another contributory factor was the installation of improperly positioned terrace drains. [13]

Schucker and Bixby also offered suggestions for solutions to the problem. Although the optimal response to the problems in the attic was to tear out the wall above the roof lines and to rebuild it with expansion joints, the cost of such an endeavor was prohibitive. Instead, they recommended the caulking of all open joints and the waterproofing of the entire inner side of the circular wall. In the basement, they recommended sealing all joints and cracks in the finish slabs with a caulking material and the application of a colorless waterproofing substance to the entire terrace to seal it. A copper catch basin was to be attached to the system of drains to collect excess water. Although not as comprehensive a solution as the best alternative — which was the removal of the granite slabs and pebble-concrete terrace along with the replacement of the fractured waterproof membrane — this second option had the possibility of being accomplished with the limited finds available to the commission. [14]

The rehabilitation of the nearly new structure become embroiled in the difficulties of the transfer to the state of Indiana. By the time the Schucker and Bixby report was complete, the mandate of the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission was about to expire. The confusion concerning the transfer of deed lasted into the middle of 1940, and for an entire year after the report, no one administered the memorial. When the Indiana Department of Conservation finally assumed responsibility for the structure in August 1940, its budget contained no funds for the upkeep of the Clark memorial. Only in 1941, two years after the Schucker and Bixby report, did the state agency begin to assess the problems at the memorial.

In less than a decade, the George Rogers Clark Memorial had gone from being the center of a significant amount of local, state, and federal attention to becoming a remote and dilapidated structure owned by a state agency which had little expertise in site management and retained only intermittent interest in the structure. Four years after President Franklin D. Roosevelt came to Vincennes to dedicate the memorial, the structure as yet had not fulfilled any of the hopes of its founders. Its condition declined each year as every leak helped create the opportunity for new ones while the contractor sought to avoid responsibility and commission members pondered their problems. It was a sad ending to the first stage of management for the Clark memorial.

The condition of the memorial did not impress the director of the Indiana Department of Conservation, Hugh Barnhart, when he first visited the memorial October 8, 1941. Barnhart and his staff met with Mayor A. B. Taylor of Vincennes and members of the local chamber of commerce, informing them that the recently disbanded George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission had appropriated $7,500 for rehabilitation of the structure before it expired. Barnhart also promised to seek funding to solve the problems plaguing the memorial and to maintain it in a better manner than had the sesquicentennial commission. [15]

The Department of Conservation appeared willing to solve the major administrative problem facing the memorial, its independent status. The sesquicentennial commission, despite its belief in the importance of commemorating the Clark story, was a free-standing entity without the expertise to maintain the memorial. Its members had no training in the management of parks or buildings, and it lacked the funding to secure a staff capable of properly maintaining the structure and its environs. The Department of Conservation appeared to have the budget, skills, and the position within state government to achieve better management of the memorial.

The first step in that process was the $7,500 rehabilitative legacy from the sesquicentennial commission. The Department of Conservation supplied workpower. At the same time local skilled craftsmen were hired, and Schucker and Bixby oversaw the work. Still the money did not go as far as planned. As a result, electrical and mechanical repairs that had been anticipated could not be undertaken, although the heating system was repaired, a parapet wall between the inner and outer roof was installed, and other renovations were completed. [16] Despite the best intentions of the Indiana Department of Conservation, the George Rogers Clark memorial had the potential to become an immense drain on agency resources.

By the middle of the 1940s, upkeep of the memorial had become the single largest chore associated with its management. The 1941 repairs failed to solve the leakage problems and a new rehabilitation program was slated for 1943 and 1944. By then Barnhart and his staff recognized that controlling the leakage would take large sums of money and much of the energy and ingenuity of the department. The 1943 Indiana legislature appropriated $40,000 for the repair of the memorial with $25,000 of that being made available during fiscal year 1944 and the remainder to follow in 1945. [17] Finally, it seemed, the resources to accomplish the task were available to the overseers of the memorial.

The finding was sufficient to provide for substantial repair of the entire structure. The contractor, Austin Snyder of the Snyder Construction Company in Vincennes, secured both parts of the contract let by the Department of Conservation. The first, repair of the outer roof, included the application of a tar-and-gravel roof with a twenty-year guarantee. Work on the roof began at the end of November and was completed within a month. The real test was the rainy season that came each spring. The new roof held during the rains, and for the first time since the sesquicentennial commission accepted the building from the contractor, it appeared that the leakage in the roof might be stopped. The Snyder Construction crews also recaulked joints in the terrace, balustrade walls, stylobates, entablature, and bridge approach, as well as in an area near the Vigo statue. [18]

This rehabilitation appeared to accomplish important goals. The leakage in the roof did not resume and seepage into the basement slowed considerably. There appeared to be little reason to expect further problems. Once again, advocates of the memorial and those worried about its upkeep could look forward to a brighter future.

But bad weather in 1948 began a series of new problems with the roof. During a windstorm March 12, 1948, the copper flashing surrounding the dome of the rotunda was torn loose. The prospect of heavy rain made the torn flashing a threat to the murals inside the rotunda; if a significant amount of rain fell, Winter's murals were certain to be damaged. Although emergency repairs temporarily solved the problem, more permanent repair work again was essential.

The leaking roof came to symbolize the tenure of the Department of Conservation at the George Rogers Clark memorial. Following the windstorm, the outer roof again began to leak. Throughout the remainder of state administration, continuous leakage plagued the memorial and its managers. Despite optimistic proclamations such as that of Chief Engineer Henry C. Prange, who in 1950 asserted that "the leaky condition of this roof has finally been eliminated," efforts to repair the roof in 1950 and 1954 only offered temporary respite from the water. After the first repairs, fresh seepage became evident within two years. The second repair effort in 1954 lasted four years before it, too, succumbed, and in 1958, the roof again began to allow water into the rotunda. [19]

The pebble-terrace also continued to leak water into the basement, and by 1952, the situation became intolerable. Prange estimated that the cost of the repairs would reach $9,000, but received little positive response from the department. The memorial rightly had acquired the reputation of an expensive albatross and department officials began to look for ways to distance themselves from responsibility for it. A heavy rain on March 10, 1952, forced the issue. A large amount of water ran into the basement from the terrace, short-circuiting the electrical wiring. Departmental officials recognized that if they did not act to stop the leakage, the entire electrical system could be destroyed by water damage. This would necessitate an enormous expenditure. Shortly afterward, they budgeted funds for the repair. The terrace was covered with blacktop which slowed, but failed to stop, the leakages. The blacktop became an eye sore. [20]

In 1954, the Department of Conservation sought to devise a comprehensive solution to all the memorial's problems. The damage to the structure, according to a team of engineers from the Western Waterproofing Company of St. Louis hired to assess the situation, was vast. Only the sheltered parts of the outer wall of memorial, shielded from the elements by the columns, had escaped significant damage. Much of the rest of the structure was in poor shape. The engineers recommended full-scale renovation at the cost of $11,500. [21]

But securing funds for the project posed a major obstacle. Robert Starrett, a curator for the Department of Conservation who took a strong interest in the memorial, wondered where the money could be found and who would "catch Doxie [Moore, Director of the Department of Conservation] when he comes flying off the mezzanine after he sees the estimate?" The director's response was the least of the problems that those who wanted to renovate the memorial faced. When Cougill brought forward a request for $23,500 for repair of the Clark memorial in 1955, the Indiana legislature refused to act on the measure. Only after three more years of ongoing seepage did the legislature finally appropriate $25,000 for the repair of the memorial. [22]

Again an expensive and valiant effort to stop the leakage was undertaken; again it appeared to solve the problem, but soon afterwards the seepage resumed. Western Waterproofing, which secured the contract, tried a number of sealants, including a pliable plastic called Thiokol, latex grout, and other materials. In November 1958, one month after the work was complete, Starrett and Prange were in Vincennes during a heavy downpour. Anxious to see whether the new work would keep out the water, they asked the custodian to inspect the structure. He found no leaks, the first time the structure had remained dry during a major storm since the state of Indiana assumed responsibility for the memorial. But within a few years, the old pattern returned. First small leaks, then flooding, followed by damage to the equipment. By 1965, custodian Walter Minderman complained that the restrooms in the basement consistently were flooded and unusable. [23]

The Park Service assumed responsibility for this situation when it acquired the memorial in 1967. For more than twenty-five years, the state continuously had expended funds with only short-term successes. The physical condition of the memorial declined every year and even efforts to repair damage ultimately were futile because they sought to address the effects of the problem rather than its source. The efforts of individual state officials such as Henry Prange and Robert Starrett were laudable, as was the effort of the Indiana Department of Conservation, but the demands of the upkeep proved to be greater than the resources available to maintain the building. When the Park Service expressed interest in the structure, state officials surely must have been pleased.

By 1966, the National Park Service had reached an important juncture. As MISSION 66, the ten-year capital development program designed to spruce up the park system in time for the 1966 observance of the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the Park Service, wound down, agency officials could look to a promising future. A strong and powerful director, George B. Hartzog, Jr., with close ties to important national leaders, broad-based bipartisan support in Congress for agency goals, and the admiration and respect of much of the public for Park Service areas, facilities, and programs were only three of its many strengths. Despite the growing suspicion with which the environmental community regarded the Park Service, there was no better time to seek to expand the responsibilities of the agency. [24]

By the 1960s, the Park Service had expanded its interest in history and historical places. Inclusion of the themes of American history within the system had been one of the goals of Stephen T. Mather and Horace M. Albright in the early years of the agency, but little was accomplished prior to the New Deal. By the end of the 1930s, the Park Service had responsibility for many of the important national historical places. It also had constructed a number of parks with patriotic themes, such as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, and had taken responsibility for existing commemorative structures such as Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio. [25] By the 1960s, taking on the George Rogers Clark memorial was well within the purview of the agency.

There were additional reasons to perceive the Clark memorial as a valuable addition to the system despite the building's many problems. The passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 prompted new perspectives of the significance of historic structures within the federal government; a legal mandate guaranteed that federal agencies must assess historic structures within their purview. Director Hartzog made sure the Park Service played an important role in the implementation of the new legislation. Between 1964 and 1968, as historic preservation increased in importance, more than twenty historical areas were added to the park system. [26] The addition of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park fit the objectives of the agency.

By 1967, the agency also had vast experience in the management of structures, facilities, and other park features. The problems of the Clark memorial were large from the perspective of a state agency, but to the Park Service with its workpower, budget, and widespread support, these difficulties seemed less daunting. Even in its initial reports on the area, in particular the 1967 master plan, agency officials regarded the problems of the park as technical rather than structural in nature. Inspectors and planners recognized the severity of the leakage in the terrace as well as the damage to the electrical system, but believed that the application of agency experience, energy, and resources easily would solve those problems. [27]

The Park Service also intended to practice proactive management rather than the reactive kinds of policies that the state agency had been compelled to follow. The depth of agency resources and expertise, combined with the planning process, allowed more thorough assessment of the long- and short-term needs of the structure. Park officials had the resources to plan ahead, to foresee problems in the future, and to prepare strategies to anticipate others. The establishment of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park seemed an extraordinary meeting between an important place in need of care and an agency capable of offering it.

Park Service efforts to refurbish the memorial began slowly. The first few years of management of George Rogers Clark National Historical Park were consumed with the details of establishing administrative procedures, planning, and developing a constituency for the park. Despite the overwhelming importance of maintaining the structure, the situation of the park as a marginal area in the Northeast Region limited access to funds and programs. Most of the maintenance work that occurred in this period was a reactive response to crisis situations. Only in the early 1970s did typically thorough Park Service efforts to restore the structure and solve its problems begin in earnest.

One of the first efforts involved Ezra Winter's murals in the rotunda. In the nearly forty years the murals had been on the walls of the rotunda, they never had been cleaned and had been subjected to myriad negative influences. Strong sunlight caused some fading, which was noticeable as early as 1947 when Ezra Winter visited the memorial. [28] The boiler safety valve had let off excess pressure on a number of occasions, sending steam and moisture into the rotunda, and in at least one instance, leaving the walls and murals dripping with water. A huge mud dauber's nest had affixed to the side of the second painting, which shows Clark offering the Indians a choice of beaded belts. Dirt and grime in the air, much of which entered the rotunda on the shoes and clothing of visitors, circulated throughout the air and adhered to the surface of the murals. At the time of installation, the murals had been coated with a mixture of buttermilk and cornstarch as a protective covering. The coating was supposed to be removed and reapplied every two years, but no one had ever undertaken the task. Throughout the years, moisture and humidity softened the starchy coating, making it a magnet for dirt and grime in the air. The lack of any kind of air-handling system exposed the murals to outside air during an era of consistent air pollution from leaded gasoline, industrial activity, and other sources. In addition, the continuous leakage had caused a general dampness inside the rotunda, making the prospect of damage to the murals from mold and mildew quite likely. One account in 1972 estimated that the visibility of the murals had been obscured by fifty percent since they had been hung; one ranger remembered the paintings as being "so dingy that you could hardly see the labeling at the bottom of the painting." [29]

In 1971, with funding from the National Park Foundation, Harpers Ferry Center Museum Specialist Walter A. Nitkiewicz and a team of art students embarked on a program of cleaning and restoration. Cleaning the rough-textured paint by hand was the project's focus, and upon the project's conclusion, the application of a protective coating of polyvinyl acetate varnish assured a finish that moisture, dirt, and grime could not penetrate. [30]

Nitkiewicz also noted the need for an air-handling system and other protective measures against the intrusion of dirt and grime. He was the first to recognize that much of the dirt in the building came in with visitors. He also noticed another major problem. The location of heat registers at floor level forced warm air up through the building. But in the winter, incoming cooler air at the top of the structure coupled with the heat blown through the registers, in essence, applied any air-borne dirt from the ground level to the murals' surfaces. Nitkiewicz watched this occur during the cleaning; within a week after sections of the mural had been cleaned, new grime clearly was evident upon the surfaces. An air-conditioning system for the memorial was essential, as were humidity and temperature controls. [31]

Others in the agency recognized the need that Nitkiewicz articulated. Lagemann supported the idea, as did Russell J. Hendricksen, Chief of the Division of Museums, and Mechanical Engineer Wayne Veach, who inspected the memorial in 1971. Nitkiewicz had suggested a kind of modernized protection that was popular in the agency and extremely useful in maintaining the features in national parks. The murals were the major interpretive focus at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. They merited the best available handling and treatment. [32]

These repairs, along with Veach's suggestion to change the way in which the air filtering system was used, constituted the first maintenance problems with the murals in the Clark memorial. Although fundamentally small in scale, and in some ways less important than solving the problems of leakage at the memorial, these steps inaugurated proactive management. Park Service specialists sought to eliminate root causes instead of providing short-term solutions to ongoing problems, establish maintenance schedules and repair schedules, and begin the process of developing a long-term strategy to maintain the memorial's resources. After protecting the historic resources, park personnel again turned their attention to the oldest and most vexing of managerial problems, the seemingly eternal leakage throughout the structure.

The first Park Service effort to address this problem also began in 1972. Aware of the number of failed attempts to stop the leakage in the basement of the memorial, NPS officials searched for a remedy. The best solution — lifting the granite slabs off the terrace and replacing the fractured membrane underneath — remained prohibitive in cost. The best affordable alternative was judged to be the application of Dex-o-Tex, a waterproof covering, over the surface of the terrace. As had many previous remedies, this one worked well for a while, but began to deteriorate within a few years. Covering the surface of the terrace, it was less attractive than the original pebbled concrete. [33] As a result, the agency considered temporary solutions. Proactive management was not always easy or possible.

The maintenance of the memorial also became a side issue in the controversy surrounding the construction of the visitor center. After the Park Service decided it could not build the new structure south of the memorial on the location recommended in the original planning and that it again would delay construction, agency officials sought to soften the blow to Vincennes. The Park Service promised to spend the $305,000 that had been appropriated for the visitor center on much-needed maintenance for the memorial. This would, at the very least, remind the angry populace of Vincennes that the Park Service retained an interest in their park. In 1975, a team of Park Service specialists with expertise in historical architecture, history, park planning, and landscape architecture visited the park to collect data to support a comprehensive rehabilitation program. [34]

Fully aware of the political implications of their visit, the team members assessed the park's needs. They encountered a set of problems essentially unchanged from the 1930s — roofing that leaked, damage to the stones from water, missing or poorly applied caulking, damaged flashing, damaged and unattractive materials such as the Dex-o-Tex atop the terrace, and many other similar problems. They recommended an entirely new roof and flashing, the repointing and sealing of the brickwork in the rotunda, and repointing of all stone masonry. [35]

The preliminary investigation for comprehensive rehabilitation set the stage for a series of repair projects at the memorial. Even though the visitor center was constructed, albeit it in a different location than originally planned, the need for repair work remained predominant. Especially after the completion of the visitor center, a significant investment of agency resources, the needs of the principal historic resource at the park merited ongoing attention.

In 1977, Denver Service Center's Midwest/Rocky Mountain team prepared a special structural analysis of the memorial. In a thorough study of the building and its problems, the team noted the skylight, the outer built-up roof, and the outer portion of the parapet wall as major problems in need of immediate repair. Numerous other areas required the kind of ongoing attention that the memorial had always needed, but rarely received. [36]

The 1977 study inaugurated a period of intense activity at the memorial. During the subsequent eighteen months, temporary emergency repairs were made to the inner copper roof; the outer roof was patched; the skylight rehabilitated, its cracked glass was repaired, and new neoprene gaskets were installed; the basement areas were plastered and painted by the park maintenance staff; the parapet wall was treated with new elastic caulking; and the Dex-o-Tex on the terrace was repaired. The first phase of a roof-testing program was completed as well. [37]

Ongoing repairs continued after the studies were completed, accelerating the repair cycle for the structure. In 1979, the entrance doors and gates to the memorial received much needed repairs while in 1980, tests were initiated to determine how to clean the stone were initiated. In 1981, Harpers Ferry museum specialists investigated the preservation problems caused by unfiltered light coming through the skylight, while at nearly the same time, core tests of the parapet in the memorial roof were taken under the direction of structural engineer Renzo Riddo of the Denver Service Center. Despite almost constant exposure to moisture, the bricks on the parapet wall remained in fine condition. [38]

Also in 1981, the original maintenance shop was razed. After the construction of the visitor center, the maintenance division had moved into the new structure's lower level. Although in some ways a less than optimal arrangement, the maintenance shop functioned better being closer to the workings of the park. Its old location, on the downtown side of Vigo Street (alternate U.S. 50) had been far from the administrative offices of the park. In 1978, plans to raze the shop had been contemplated and a Form 10-238 for the construction of a utilitarian storage shed in the western part of the park had been filed. In 1981, the old maintenance building was taken down and the site landscaped with twenty-two columnar junipers, twenty upright yews, thirty-eight lelandi firethorns, and one sugar maple. Wood chips and bluegrass filled out the area's landscaping. A small storage building adjacent to the basement entrance of the visitor center was constructed in 1985. [39]

In 1983, the rehabilitation and repair of the memorial roof began. The projected cost exceeded $645,000 and included replacing the inner and outer roofs, repointing and flashing the inside of the brick portions of the parapet; removing, cleaning, repairing, and resetting the parapet stone; cleaning and repairing the terrace walls, columns, portico ceiling, and entablature; and preserving the bronze statue of Clark. An additional $283,000 was projected to cover the cost of the restoration of the terrace and the skylight. By December 1983, the work on the first two phases was eighty percent complete. [40]

Improvements at the memorial continued during the middle of the 1980s. In 1984, the Park Service let a contract for the study of the heating and cooling system in the memorial. Although updated on a number of occasions, this system fundamentally was the same one that had been installed during the 1930s; by the 1970s, it was antiquated. It had been the source of some of the memorial's problems, because the boiler safety valve had blown numerous times and the air-circulation system had been at least partially responsible for removing the grime in the air and depositing it onto the murals. Gove and Associates, an engineering firm, undertook the project in 1985. [41]

Also during 1985, other projects were completed. A stabilization effort to mend areas of extensive spalling and cracking of the parapet — the top forty-four inches of the floodwall protecting the park from the Wabash River — was completed, as also was still another rehabilitation of the memorial deck. A ramp with handrails to accommodate handicapped visitors was constructed between the visitor center and the memorial with rails being added to the steps. This created better access for those who has difficulty with walking or who were in wheelchairs. [42]

The rise of resources management as the lead category of park-level endeavors in the mid-1980s had an impact on George Rogers Clark National Historical Park. By the middle of the 1980s, resources management had become the label under which the Park Service established its management priorities at the park level. It had been transformed from conceptual genesis as part of a division status within the system, a change in administrative procedures and hierarchy had of Interpretation and Resources Management at nearly every park. By the early 1980s, most national park areas had a resources management plan that broadened the definition of the category by offering its wish list of projects; this new rubric gave park staff a way to standardize management practices as well as to rank competing projects that were different in character. By 1985, resources management had become the fashionable area of management within the agency.

It also had a malleable meaning. In essence, the broad definition meant that nearly everything within a park was a resource — historical, archeological, natural, interpretive, or anything else. As a result, managers and regional office officials could compare projects within a park to each other with greater precision, but the decisions between resources management priorities of different kinds of parks had even less clarity than ever before. For some parks, resources management was a way to accomplish long-deferred goals; for others, it was another mechanism that stood in the way of park managers' objectives.

At George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, this conceptually new definition of historic responsibilities grew from existing maintenance functions and began to be incorporated into official park documents during the middle of the 1980s. Soon afterwards, the types of activities labeled resources management at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park were handled by the maintenance division. The elevation of such functions as the replacement of trees to decisions of interpretive importance accentuated a trend that began with the battle for the visitor center. During that controversy the one argument for moving the location from behind the memorial suggested that the less-developed area behind the building reflected the wilderness surrounding Clark while the landscaped area in front represented civilization. The development of resources management at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park reflected this predisposition to include every facet of Park Service activity within the historical context.

Integrating this new concept into park programming took time. Beginning in the middle of the 1970s, "Interpretation and Resources Management" began to appear as a category in the annual reports. The initial designation of resources management as a separate category at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park came as part of the 1985 annual report. In it, Interpretation and Resources Management were classed together, but the description of activities within this new and broader category mirrored previous interpretive reports. In the setting of Interpretation, this new idea did not seem to offer the park much of an advantage in accomplishing goals. The ongoing, expensive, and time-consuming issues at the park were far from questions of interpretation. By 1987, park managers recognized how best to utilize the new management tool; that year, Resources Management was classed with Maintenance in the annual report for the first time. This was a much more appropriate pairing for this particular park, although it did not always work system-wide. Activities reported include landscaping and special projects such as floodwall studies. This categorization persisted at the memorial and became the model for its operations. [43]

This new joint heading allowed park managers to accomplish the tasks necessary to preserve the park and its historic features. A study of the rehabilitation of the heating and air conditioning system in the memorial and of asbestos removal began in 1987. During that same year, Patrick Engineering Inc., of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, began a study of the Wabash River floodwall. This study showed that the floodwall still functioned properly, although it had become "degraded aesthetically" in several places. It did not appear to need substantial structural repair, but some cosmetic work, mostly to make the wall uniform in texture and color, was necessary from the Park Service's perspective. Only the parapet and the coping needed eventual replacement. Although the sidewalk at the southern end of the floodwall had settled and pulled away from the floodwall, Patrick Engineering Inc. described this as the result of a one-time settlement of the fill material from which the levee had been constructed. Only monitoring of the area was deemed necessary. [44]

In 1989, another step toward the implementation of long-standing plans took place. The Park Service hired Krishna Engineering Consultants Inc., of Des Moines, Iowa, to study rehabilitation of the HVAC — the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system — as well as to plan the removal of asbestos from the memorial. The study made clear the presence of asbestos, detailing the location of the substance within the memorial. It also articulated the need for revamping the HVAC and set up protocols to cover both processes. [45]

In January 1991, both projects got under way. Asbestos removal began under a contract issued to the J&W Allen Construction Co., of Marion, Illinois. The material was removed from all building ducts and insulated piping, and contaminated soil from the basement was also taken out. Subsequent to removal of the asbestos, the company installed two air conditioners, an air-handling system, two boilers, connecting piping and ductwork, and a computerized system monitor and control center. This new system was designed to regulate humidity in the memorial at fifty-five percent and temperature at sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit. [46]

Construction of the new maintenance facility also began in 1991. This structure first had been requested by Superintendent Roy J. Beasley Jr., in 1982, but at the Regional Office, this request had encountered some opposition. Associate Regional Director for Planning and Resource Preservation John Kawamoto was one opponent. He believed that Beasley's proposal was not feasible, for it contemplated construction of the facility upon a 100-year flood plain. Kawamoto felt a better location could be found. [47]

Beasley persisted, advocating an underground storage facility if the problem of the one-foot difference in the level of the projected 100-year flood and the bottom of the new maintenance facility could not be resolved. The situation was urgent, Beasley insisted, because health and safety inspections had revealed the maintenance shop arrangement in the basement of the visitor center was "substandard, hazardous, and a high risk." [48]

Beasley had found a way to generate a response within the Regional Office. There were a total of seven alternatives that the architectural division in the Regional Office presented. The underground structure that Beasley advocated cost 3.5 times the amount of a similar aboveground building; that made its selection an unlikely choice. A location in the historic district of the city, where the original shop had been, was across Vigo Street, far from the central operations of the park. A new building there would require a design that would blend in with the nearby historic structures. A location on Willow Street, near a property the Park Service planned to acquire, was viable, but it would cause a delay until acquisition was completed. A site near the parking lot would require compatibility with the visitor center and the presence of visitors might interfere with work. Another property northeast of the park, which also was proposed for addition to the park, again posed the problem of time. It would be several years before construction could begin. The agency could request rental space from the General Services Administration, but this would only delay permanent resolution. The best available option was to raise the floor of the building 1.5 feet so that it was above the level of the projected 100-year flood and to build the foundation with monolithic reinforced concrete so that if the area did flood, the structure still would be water-resistant. The option to build in the flood plain with a raised floor made economic sense and was precisely what Beasley wanted all along. [49]

The J&W Allen Construction Company received the contract to build the structure. Their work began in 1991 and was completed in 1992. Regional Chief of Maintenance Ted Hillmer dedicated the building in front of a crowd of approximately 100 on August 23, 1992, and the Maintenance Division moved out of the visitor center and into its new building. [50]

Despite the improvement to the physical plant and in nearly every phase of resources management and maintenance at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, the same ongoing problems continued to plague the memorial. First and foremost was, as always, water leakage. The Dex-o-Tex, first installed in 1972, had deteriorated badly by the early 1990s. It failed to keep water out of the basement as well as off the top of the pebbled surfaces of the memorial. It had become quite unsightly and somewhat hazardous to visitors who walked upon it. Its removal was pleasing aesthetically but that removal also heightened the oldest of problems at the memorial — after the covering was taken away, more water entered the basement than had while it was in place. The oldest issue at the park became the most important one. In 1992, Superintendent James H. Holcomb identified water leakage into the basement of the memorial as "the major concern of park management." [51]

In many ways, this admission brought the park full circle. More than twenty-five years of Park Service management had vastly improved conditions at the memorial and in every phase of its operation, but some problems seemed unsolvable. By the 1990s, at least three different administrations — the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission, the Indiana Department of Conservation, and the National Park Service — had all grappled with the problem of leakage. The Park Service had the most success, virtually stopping the leaking from the roof, but the problem of water in the basement continued to vex managers. None of the wide range of options tried ever did more than temporarily stop the leakage.

The rise of resources management played an important role in helping George Rogers Clark National Historical Park achieve its management objectives. The new category allowed for a broader concept of what was important at the Regional Office and national levels while elevating concerns that acquired greater significance when construed as resources management rather than as maintenance. In the new arrangement, with parks specifying priorities through the resources management process, places such as the Clark memorial could acquire more of what its managers felt was essential.

For this and other reasons, at George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, maintenance and resources management will continue to be linked as a primary emphasis of management. The Park Service inherited a flawed physical plant when it accepted the memorial; nearly thirty years of effort, during an era when the standards of acceptable conditions have increased, has begun to solve some of the problems. But issues of maintaining the monument will continue to plague park managers and dig deeply into their budgets. Creating a historic park from a memorial entails expensive and ongoing obligations. As the memorial itself ages, this obligation only can grow in significance and cost.

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Last Updated: 28-Jul-2006