Lake Roosevelt
Administrative History
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Building and Maintaining the Park: Administrative and Visitor Facilities

The administrative and visitor facilities at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO) range from headquarters to employee housing to a wide range of visitor facilities. Each new building or developed area has required planning, construction, and maintenance. Besides the facilities constructed by the Park Service, concessionaires also provide certain visitor facilities within the national recreation area.


The first official National Park Service facility in the Lake Roosevelt area was workspace for Park Service staff that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) provided under the terms of the 1941-1946 interbureau agreements. Between 1942 and 1952, Park Service personnel worked out of several rooms on the second floor of a temporary general store building in Coulee Dam, located near today's public rest area. The best location for permanent administrative headquarters was discussed at great length during the 1940s and 1950s. Proposed locations included Coulee Dam, Colville, Fort Spokane, Kettle Falls, Spring Canyon, and South Marina (Crescent Bay). Under the terms of the 1946 Tri-Party Agreement, Reclamation agreed to provide facilities in the Reclamation Zone for Park Service administration of the national recreation area (NRA). In 1947, Reclamation provided LARO staff with a new warehouse, four-car garage, and a small shop building next to the Coulee Dam theater to supplement the existing 600 square feet of office space. Reclamation planned to raze the temporary office building in 1952, so by the late 1940s LARO's Superintendent Claude Greider was searching for funding for the construction of a new building for NRA headquarters. [1]

park headquarters
LARO headquarters (in front of sand pile) and six employee houses on Crest Drive (curved road in fore-ground), 1967. The three houses on the right were constructed in 1966. (File A94 3rd Power Plant: Other Ramifications 1966-76, box 3 of 3, LARO #95, Cat. #3250, LARO.HQ.PAO.)

In January 1952, the small Park Service staff moved temporarily into the Reclamation field office on the main highway to Coulee Dam. A week later, Greider commented approvingly to the Regional Director that the modern building overlooked Lake Roosevelt, was convenient to the public, and was "all that can be desired." [2] LARO's new offices consisted of three rooms totaling 1,138 square feet. The Park Service paid Reclamation an annual fee for utilities and other services for these and other facilities at Coulee Dam. LARO's stay in this building was short-lived, however. In late 1953 or early 1954, LARO headquarters moved to a building that had been occupied by Reclamation's Parks and Street crew on Crest Drive. The Park Service also used adjacent outside storage space. LARO agreed to maintain the building and Reclamation to provide electricity, sewer and water service, and garbage collection, for which it was reimbursed. [3]

landscaping headquarters
Women landscaping LARO headquarters, 1960s. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO.FS).

LARO staff continued to examine the possibility of relocating headquarters to a more central location. During the Mission 66 period, LARO personnel favored Fort Spokane, but the Regional Office favored retaining headquarters in Coulee Dam, partly because of the continuing possibility of LARO taking over the administration of recreation on Banks Lake. In the spring of 1959, as part of the privatization of the town of Coulee Dam, LARO received jurisdiction and control over the headquarters building on Crest Drive and an adjacent 5.7 acres of land. The Park Service paid Reclamation over $93,000 for the administration building and almost $37,000 for a garage and shop in Coulee Dam. LARO used Accelerated Public Works money in the fall of 1962 to convert the attached glass greenhouse into 2,250 square feet of additional office space. [4] This complex still serves as LARO's administrative headquarters.

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Last Updated: 22-Apr-2003