On-line Book
Book Cover to Mission 66 Visitor Centers. With image of Dinosaur NM Visitor Center, view from beneath ramp


Table of Contentss




Wright Brothers


Pertified Forest

Rocky Mountain

Cecil Doty



Appendix I

Appendix II

Appendix III

Appendix IV

Mission 66 Visitor Centers
National Park Service Arrowhead


1 Newton Drury, "The Dilemma of Our Parks," American Forests 55 (June 1949): 6-11, 38-39.

2 President Truman also tried to obtain additional funds for the national parks in 1949, but his efforts were thwarted by Congress. See Elmo Richardson, Dams, Parks and Politics (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1973), 40.

3 "Jefferson Memorial Competition Winners," Architectural Record 103 (April 1948): 92-103.

4 Sharon A. Brown, Administrative History, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Historic Site (Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1984).

5 Bernard DeVoto, "Let's Close the National Parks," Harper's 207 (October 1953): 49-52. Many popular magazines featured stories warning the public of the dangers of visiting the parks and the slum-like conditions encountered within park boundaries. See Jerome Wood, "National Parks Tomorrow's Slums?" Travel 101 (April 1954): 14-16; Charles Stevenson, "The Shocking Truth About Our National Parks," Reader's Digest 66 (January 1955): 45-50. "Twenty-Four Million Acres of Trouble," in the Saturday Evening Post, took a slightly more sympathetic approach by featuring Conrad Wirth, and his ceaseless efforts to improve the Park Service despite inadequate funding. See Saturday Evening Post 3 (July 3, 1954): 32, 78-80.

6 Dwight D. Eisenhower, Mandate for Change (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1963), 549-550.

7 William Nelson Noll, "Mission 66, the National Park Service Program for the Revitalization of America's National Parks, 1955-1966," (Master of Arts Thesis, Kansas State University, 1997), 11-12.

8 Richardson, Dams, Parks and Politics, 111.

9 Conrad L. Wirth, Parks, Politics, and the People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980), 238.

10 Lemuel A. Garrison, The Making of a Ranger (Salt Lake City, Utah: Howe Brothers, 1983), 255-56.

11 Roy E. Appleman, A History of the National Park Service Mission 66 Program (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1958), 2-32. Pilot studies were also conducted for Yellowstone, Chaco Canyon National Monument, Shiloh National Military Park, Adams Mansion National Historic Site, Fort Laramie, Everglades, and Mesa Verde.

12 "A Survey of the Public Concerning the National Parks" (Princeton: Audience Research, Inc., December 1955).

13 The final report was entitled "Mission 66, To Provide Adequate Protection and Development of the National Park Service for Human Use."

14 Appleman, "A History of the National Park Service," 33-95.

15 Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr., Modern Architecture, Romanticism and Reintegration (New York: Payson & Clark, Ltd., 1929); Henry-Russell Hitchcock, Jr., and Philip Johnson, The International Style (New York: W. W. Norton, 1932).

16 Leonardo Benevolo, History of Modern Architecture, vol. 2 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1985), 643.

17 Eric J. Sandeen, "The Design of Public Housing in the New Deal: Oskar Stonorov and the Carl Mackley Houses," American Quarterly 37 (Winter 1985): 645-667; Kristen Szylvian Bailey, "Defense Housing in Greater Pittsburgh, 1945-1955," Pittsburgh History 73 (Spring 1990): 16-28.

18 Thomas S. Hines, Richard Neutra and the Search for Modern Architecture (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).

19 This section, "Modern Architecture in the Parks," is based on discussions in Benevolo, History of Modern Architecture; Kenneth Frampton, Modern Architecture, A Critical History (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1985); John Jacobus, Twentieth-Century Architecture, The Middle Years, 1940-1965 (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1966); William H. Jordy, The Impact of Modernism in the Mid-Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972).

20 Devereux Butcher, "For a Return to Harmony in Park Architecture," National Parks Magazine 26, no. 111 (October-December 1952). See also David Brower, "'Mission 66' is Proposed by Reviewer of Park Service's New Brochure on Wilderness," National Parks Magazine 32, no. 132 (January-March 1958); Weldon F. Heald, "Urbanization of the National Parks," National Parks Magazine 35, no. 160 (January 1961); Ansel Adams, "Yosemite—1958, Compromise in Action," National Parks Magazine 32, no. 135 (October-December 1958). That Butcher's opinions remained unaltered over the decade is indicated by his article, "Resorts or Wilderness?" in Atlantic Monthly 207, no. 2 (February 1961).

21 Wirth issued a memorandum to the Washington office and all field offices announcing that field officials attending the Public Service Conference at Great Smoky Mountains (September 1955) "recommended that structures be designed to reflect the character of the area while at the same time following up-to-date design standards." He added that "park structures are to conform, to some extent, with the trend toward contemporary design and the use of materials and equipment accepted as standard by the building industry. However, restraint must be exercised in the design so that the structures will not be out of character with the area and so that the structures will be subordinated to their surroundings." See Conrad Wirth Papers (CWP), Box 6, American Heritage Center (AHC), Laramie, Wyoming.

22 National Parks Magazine 29, no. 120 (January-March 1955), 4.

23 Ernest Mickel, Architectural Record 120, no. 2 (August 1956), 32. The New York Times also picked up the story, reporting Park Service officials stating that ". . .the national parks were maintained as showcases for natural attractions," and therefore "Mr. Wright's 'modernized type' of building would be out of place among Yosemite's trees and glacier-cut rock cliffs. . ." See The New York Times (December 1, 1954).

24 Jonathan Searle Monroe, "Architecture in the National Parks: Cecil Doty and Mission 66," (Master of Architecture thesis, University of Washington, 1986), 82.

25 "Address by Conrad L. Wirth, Director of National Park Service, at the Dedication of Badlands National Monument and Mission 66 Facilities on Wednesday, September 16, 1959," "Speeches, 1959," CWP, AHC, Laramie, Wyoming.

26 Appleman, "A History of the National Park Service," 16-17. Wirth reprinted this statement in his memoirs. See Parks, Politics and the People, 242.

27 Emerson Goble, "Architecture (?) for the National Parks," Architectural Record 121, no. 1 (January 1957), 184.

28 Grist, a publication of the National Conference on State Parks in cooperation with the National Park Service, Department of the Interior (September-October 1957; July-August 1958; November-December 1958). The story on concrete was written by the Portland Cement Association and that on asphalt by the Asphalt Institute.

29 Douglas Haskell to Conrad L. Wirth, October 19, 1956, Box 25, CWP, AHC.

30 Jack Goodman, "Controversy Over Lodge in the West," The New York Times (August 7, 1955); Dan Morrill, "No Daub, No Wattles: Coquina Beach at Nags Head to Feature Modern Trend in Architectural Ideas," Virginian-Pilot (July 22, 1956); Progressive Architecture 37, no. 1 (January 1956): 92. Donald F. Benson (1921- ) grew up in Ottawa, Illinois, and graduated from the University of Illinois with an architectural degree in 1951. Benson's work for the Park Service began in 1953, when Charles Peterson hired him as an architect in the Philadelphia office. During Mission 66, Benson worked for the EODC under John B. Cabot, designing and supervising the design of visitor centers at Everglades National Park, Saratoga, and Hopewell Village (now Hopewell Furnace), among other locations. Benson is now retired and living in Lakewood, Colorado. Interview with Donald F. Benson by the author, March 9, 1999, Lakewood, Colorado.

31 Wolf Von Eckardt, "The Park Service Dares to Build Well," Washington Post (March 29, 1964); Lois Craig, et al, The Federal Presence (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1979), 493.

32Thomas H. Creighton, "The Sixties: A P/A Symposium on the State of Architecture: Part II," Progressive Architecture 42, no. 4 (April 1961): 164-169; Jan C. Rowan, "Wanting to Be: The Philadelphia School," Progressive Architecture 42, no. 4 (April 1961): 131-163. Although use of the term "Philadelphia School" has become common among architectural historians, the label was invented by Jan Rowan; members did not necessarily consider themselves part of a cohesive group.

33 "Two Visitors' Centers Exemplify New Park Architecture," Progressive Architecture 40, no. 2 (February 1959): 87.

34 Skidmore, Owings and Merrill was founded in 1936 by Louis Skidmore and Nathaniel A. Owings. John O. Merrill joined the partners three years later. By the fifties, the internationally famous firm known for "spare, contemporary design" had offices in New York, Chicago, Portland, and San Francisco. Among its prominent buildings is the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, a commission sought by both Eero Saarinen and Frank Lloyd Wright. See John Peter, Masters of Modern Architecture (New York: George Braziller, Inc., 1958); Thomas J. Noel, Buildings of Colorado (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997).

35 Richard W. Sellars and Melody Webb, An Interview with Robert M. Utley on the History of Historic Preservation in the National Park Service—1947-1980 (Santa Fe: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1985), 30.

36 "The National Significance of Pennsylvania Avenue and Historically Related Environs" (National Park Service, Division of History Studies, 1965). See microfiche document, Technical Information Center (TIC), Denver Service Center. For a brief discussion of the origins of the Pennsylvania Avenue historic site, see Ronald A. Foresta, America's National Parks and Their Keepers (Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future, Inc., 1984), 134-135.

37 U.S. Department of the Interior. Our Heritage, A Plan for Its Protection and Use: "Mission 66" (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1956).

38 Conrad Wirth to Washington Office and field offices, memorandum, "Visitor Centers; Park Roads," February 10, 1956.

39 "Summary of General Discussions of Visitor Center Design Problems," WODC, February 4, 1958, 7.

40 Lewis, Museum Curatorship in the National Park Service, 1904-1982 (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1993), 128.

41 These drawings are available on microfiche at the Technical Information Center, Denver Service Center.

42 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1953.

43 These drawings are available on microfiche at the Technical Information Center, Denver Service Center.

44 Building Maintenance Records, "Elevator Bldg. Carlsbad Cavern's N.P.," n.d., Carlsbad Cavern archives.

45 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1955.

46 Superintendent's Monthly Reports [R. Taylor Hoskins, Superintendent], Carlsbad Caverns National Park, January 1, 1956, and March 3, 1956.

47 "Address by Conrad L. Wirth, Director, National Park Service, Dedication of Visitor Center, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico, June 12, 1959," "Speeches, 1959," CWP, AHC.

48 Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1956.

49 The Design and Construction Division benefited from student trainee and assistant programs that provided the WODC with 90 student architects, engineers, and landscape architects during the summer of 1956; EODC was supplied with 75 students. See Annual Report of the Secretary of the Interior, 1956.

50Herbert Evison, "Interview with A. Clark Stratton," March 1, 1962, National Park Service History Collection, Harpers Ferry Center. Although Stratton's comments are generally valid, especially for the second half of the program, the Park Service did design and manage visitor center projects that exceeded $200,000; whether or not expenses for these buildings exceeded the limit during the construction process is unknown.

51 Utley in Sellars and Webb, "An Interview with Robert M. Utley."

52 Wirth, Parks, Politics and the People, 278.

53 U.S. Department of the Interior, Mission 66, To Provide Adequate Protection and Development of the National Park System for Human Use (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1956).

54 U.S. Department of the Interior, "Visitor Center Planning, Notes on Discussions Held in EODC November 18-22, 1957 and WODC February 4-6, 1958" (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, n.d).

55 "A Report on Visitor Centers" (Washington: U.S. Department of the Interior, ca. January 1960), National Park Service History Collection, Harpers Ferry Center.

56 "Visitor Center Planning," 13-40.

57 Ronald L. Lee, Chief, Division of Interpretation to Chief, EODC, memorandum, "Audio-Visual Space Requirements in Visitor Center Buildings," ca. November, 1956, Box 29, "WASO Design and Construction Correspondence," 1954-56, Regional Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

58 Lewis, Museum Curatorship, 108-142.

59 Lewis, Manual for Museums (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1976).

60 "The Eastern Museum Laboratory increased its exhibit construction staff to about 30 and the Western Laboratory reopened with a staff of fifteen." In anticipation of over a hundred new visitor centers and the rehabilitation of exhibits in about forty existing museums, the Museum Division "planned laboratory facilities to maintain a permanent production rate of 250 exhibits per year." Another one hundred and fifty exhibits were to be obtained through contractors. See R. H. Lewis, draft, "Reexamination of the Museum Phases of Mission 66," National Park Service History Collection, Harpers Ferry Center.

61 Lewis, Museum Curatorship, 153-4.

62 John W. Jenkins to Director, May 6, 1958, in "Dinosaur Interpretive Plans, vol. I, Quarry Visitor Center Exhibit Plan," library, Denver Service Center.

63 Howard R. Stagner, "Making the Visitor Center Work," Guidelines (National Park Service, November 1963): 75-77; Charles W. Warner, "The Interpretation of an Historic Area through the Original Environment and the Visitor Center," Guidelines (National Park Service, November 1963): 79-81.


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