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
Chapter 2
National Park Service Arrowhead


1 Robert Perry Rodgers (1895-1934) and Alfred Easton Poor (1899-1988) both received their undergraduate architectural education at Harvard University. Rodgers went on to earn a degree from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1920 and work in Bertram Goodhue's New York office. Poor continued his education at the University of Pennsylvania, joining Rodgers in the late 1920s for collaboration on an office building.

2 "Mission 66 for Wright Brothers National Memorial" (National Park Service, Dept. of the Interior, n.d.), Wright Brothers National Monument archives.

3 Andrew M. Hewes, Wright Brothers National Memorial: An Administrative History (Washington, D.C.: Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1967), 26-7.

4 "Preliminary General Plan, Kill Devil Hill National Monument," Eastern Division Branch of Plans and Designs, drawing # NM-KDH-1002, ca. April 1934, Technical Information Center (TIC), Denver Service Center (DSC).

5 "Mission 66 for Wright Brothers," 4.

6 Hewes, Wright Brothers National Memorial, 73.

7 "Preliminary Plan for Wright Brothers Memorial Museum, (3 sh.) drawing #NMEM-KDH-2014, Regional Planning and Construction Division, February 4, 1952, TIC, DSC.

8 Wright Memorial Museum Committee of the Kill Devil Hills Memorial Society, "Prospectus for a Museum to be located at Kill Devil Hills, N.C. to Depict the Life and Accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright," February 1952, "Museum-prospectus" file, Kill Devil Hills Memorial Society Papers (KDHMSP), Outer Banks History Center (OBHC), Manteo, North Carolina.

9 Conrad Wirth to David Stick, ca. August 1958, KDHMSP, OBHC.

10 An estimate of the costs was initially provided by Assistant Director Ronald Lee in June 1952. Wirth repeated the following estimates: roads and walks: $150,000; buildings and structures: $600,000; grounds: $186,000; utilities: $38,000; exhibits and furnishings: $230,000; total: $1,204,000. Ronald Lee to Admiral Ramsey, June 10, 1952, KDHMSP, OBHC.

11 Among these were William A. Coleman, Inc., Architects of Kingston, N.C., John Erwin Ramsey & Associates, Salisbury, N.C., and Andrew L Pendleton of Design Associates in Statesville, N.C. See "Museum-Misc." file, KDHMSP, OBHC.

12 "Suggested Action for the Wright Memorial Museum Committee," Kill Devil Hills Memorial Society, Ronald F. Lee and Ralph V. Whitener, Executive Committee, May 19, 1953, KDHMSP, OBHC.

13 See David Stick, "Wright Memorial Museum Committee (1959-1960)," 21; park archives, Fort Raleigh Headquarters, Manteo, N.C.

14 Warren William Cunningham, known as "Barney," worked briefly with Mitchell/Giurgola before becoming a partner in Geddes, Brecher, Qualls, Cunningham. By the early 1960s, the firm was competing for commissions in the Philadelphia area.

15 Phoebe Stanton, "Mitchell/Giurgola Architects" in Process: Architecture 2 (October 1977): 153.

16 E. Lawrence Bellante and Alfred Clauss also received the contract for the visitor center at Mammoth Cave under construction in 1957-1958. Mitchell had left the firm by this time and did not recall the project.

17 Interview with Ehrman B. Mitchell by the author, February 9, 1999, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

18 Interview with Ehrman Mitchell.

19 Mitchell/Giurgola designed residences for Mr. and Mrs. Crockett in Corning, New York, and the Mitchell family in Lafayette Hill, Pennsylvania, in 1958. The Mr. and Mrs. J. E. Steine Residence in Bryan, Ohio, was completed in 1959. Exhibition designs included the Far East Asia Development Project displayed in the New York Coliseum (with Wright and Mitarachi) in 1958, a design for the A.I.A. Philadelphia Chapter Centennial Exhibition (1958), and an exhibition design for the Brooklyn Museum (1959 with Kallman and Mitarachi). The firm also completed "Public Health Center No. 9" for the city of Philadelphia in 1959.

20 Mitchell/Giurgola's University of Pennsylvania parking garage received a gold medal from the Philadelphia chapter of the A.I.A. in 1964. Their submission to the competition for the A.I.A. National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., won first place out of two hundred and twenty-one entries, but inter-agency conflict prevented its construction.

21 The firm designed two other buildings for the Park Service, the Acadia National Park Headquarters Building (1965) in Bar Harbor, Maine, which remained in project form, and a maintenance facility constructed for Independence Park in 1975.

22 Stanton, "Mitchell/Giurgola Architects," Process: Architecture.

23 The Gold Medal Exhibition opened at the A.I.A. convention in Honolulu on June 6, 1982. The show traveled to the school of architecture at the University of Hawaii, Honolulu; the Foundation for Architecture, Philadelphia; the Graduate School of Architecture at Columbia University, New York; and the American Institute of Architects National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. See Tony P. Wrenn to Marilyn Harper, February 24, 1997, memorandum, "National Register Status of Visitor Center."

24 For example, architectural historian Phoebe Stanton lists the Wright Brothers Visitor Center as typical of early works departing from "doctrinaire architecture," and "defined by Kahn's comment on circumstantial and form." See Stanton, "Mitchell/Giurgola," 158. Kenneth Frampton, author of Modern Architecture, singles out the Wright Brothers Visitor Center as exemplifying the firm's early tendency towards "the superficial aspects of the New Monumentality, as this appeared in the more structurally ostentatious works of Eero Saarinen." See Frampton, "Forward," in Ehrman B. Mitchell and Romaldo Giurgola, Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, (New York: Rizzoli International Publications, Inc., 1983), 8.

25 Virginia-Pilot (November 18, 1957), 29-A.

26 William Marlin, "On Trying to Understand the Significance of Mitchell/Giurgola," Architectural Record (April 1976): 117-118.

27 See Romaldo Giurgola and Jaimini Mehta, Louis I. Kahn (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1975); Romaldo Giurgola with Pamille I. Berg, "Kahn, Louis I.," in Adolf K. Placzek, ed., Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects, vol. 2 (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1982), 537-546.

28 Stanton, "Mitchell/Giurgola," 155.

29 Jan C. Rowan, "Wanting to Be: The Philadelphia School," Progressive Architecture 42, no. 4 (April 1961): 150-154.

30 Conrad Wirth, "Mission 66 Wright Brothers National Memorial," First Flight Ceremony program, 1957; Conrad Wirth Papers, American Heritage Center, Laramie, Wyoming.

31 Ronald Lee to David Stick, August 14, 1958, "Lee, Ronald," file, OBHC.

32 Horace Dough, "Superintendent's Monthly Report," May 12, 1958, park archives, Fort Raleigh.

33 "Visitor Center Development," drawing #NMEM-WB-3003 and #3003A, EODC, April 7, 1958, TIC.

34 "Mission 66 for Wright Brothers National Memorial," 5.

35 Romaldo Giurgola to Carol Shull, March 4, 1997.

36 Telephone Interview with Ehrman B. Mitchell, Jr., January 25, 1999, by the author; Interview with Ehrman Mitchell, February 9, 1999.

37 This paragraph is based on examination of over a hundred sketches in the Mitchell/Giurgola Collection at the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

38 Dough, "Superintendent's Monthly Report," September 12, 1958.

39 Dough, "Superintendent's Monthly Report," January 8, 1959.

40 Hewes, "Wright Brothers National Memorial," 1967.

41 Mitchell, Cunningham, Giurgola, Assoc., August 4, 1958, drawing # NMEM-WB 3004, microfiche, TIC.

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

43 Ronald Lee to David Stick, November 18, 1958, KDHMSP, OBHC.

44 "Mission 66 Program to be Initiated at Wright Brothers National Memorial Dual Celebration December 17," press release, National Park Service, November 29, 1957, KDHMSP, OBHC.

45 See "Wright Brothers" museum file, ca. 1962, park archives, Fort Raleigh. This file includes an additional comment by the architects, "Patterned Concrete Wall, Wright Brothers National Memorial," which reads as follows: "It has attracted many visitors to use it as a background for snapshots and has provoked many questions as to its meaning. It means, simply, that concrete is plastic and may be effectively used to create almost any visual experience, this being one the architects believe to admirably suit the condition of structure, site and deeds."

46 The specifications called for millwork and paneling of "Tidewater Red Cypress" with a "Clear Heart finish." Framing lumber was to be Douglas fir, Hemlock, and southern yellow pine. See "Specifications for Construction of a New Visitor Center to be Located at Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina," Section GC-9 "Carpentry & Millwork," 9-1, park archives, Fort Raleigh.

47 "Kitty Hawk Museum," Progressive Architecture 44 (August 1962): 117.

48 The first day of bidding, originally scheduled for January 28, took place on February 4, 1959. The lowest of seven bids, $218,935 by Wilson H. Wright of Hampton, Virginia, was rejected because it came by telegraph unaccompanied by a bond.

49 Catherine Bishir of the North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office determined that "as a seriously conceived, architect-designed work of mid-twentieth century modernist architecture" the visitor center is both "unparalleled in Dare County and the Outer Banks" and "of exceptional importance to the state of North Carolina." See Bishir, "Evaluation of the Visitor Center (Mitchell/Giurgola, 1959-1960), Wright Brothers National Memorial," North Carolina State Historic Preservation Office, January 15, 1997.

50 "Wright Brothers National Memorial, Monthly Progress Report," February 1959, park archives.

51 Horace Dough, "Superintendent's Monthly Report," May 5, 1959, park archives, Fort Raleigh.

52 Dough, "Monthly Report," August 13, 1959.

53 Dough, "Monthly Report," September 29, 1959.

54 Dough, "Monthly Report," October 12, 1959.

55 Dough, "Monthly Report," January 12, 1960; this team of interior designers worked at the Gettysburg Visitor Center and Cyclorama Building in 1961.

56 Dough, "Monthly Report," July 12, 1960, and August 10, 1960.

57 Cotton Brothers, Inc., the only party to bid on the project, received the contract for $34,228.11 on June 17, 1960. The final inspection was conducted on October 22, 1960. "Completion Report, Planting and Miscellaneous Construction, Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina," n.d.

58 Dough, "Monthly Report," August 10, 1960.

59 59,171 people visited the Wright Brothers Memorial in August 1998. See "U.S. Department of Interior Monthly Public Use Report," park archives, Wright Brothers National Memorial.

60 Dough, Monthly Report, September 11, 1960.

61 "Table 1: Total Annual Number of Visitors," in "Master Plan for Preservation and Use of Wright Brothers National Memorial, Vol. III, General Park Information Section C: Public Use Data," September 1963.

62 Dough, "Monthly Report," September 14, 1960.

63 Dough, "Monthly Report," October 17, 1960.

64 News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) (December 17, 1960), clippings file, park archives, Fort Raleigh.

65 "New Wright Memorial Visitors Center at Kill Devil Hills," Coastland Times (December 2, 1960).

66 Rowan, "Wanting to Be: The Philadelphia School," Progressive Architecture.

67 "Kitty Hawk Museum," Progressive Architecture 44 (August 1963): 112-117.

68 Wolf Von Eckardt, "The Park Service Dares to Build Well," The Washington Post (March 29, 1964), G6.

69 "Our Park Service Serves Architecture Well," AIA Journal (January 1971): 18-25; Lois Craig, et al, "The Government as Host," in The Federal Presence (Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1979), 496-7. "A View of Contemporary World Architecture," Japan Architect (July 1970): 65-78.

70 The firm was also included in the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects, vol. 3 (New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1982), which noted its "considered response to the urban context and the natural environment, and . . . sense of place. . ."

71 "Bids Have Been Mailed for Wright Center Work," Coastland Times (October 5, 1962); "$5,684 to be spent on Visitor Center Repairs at K.D.H.," Coastland Times (November 9, 1962), park archives.

72 Interview with Donald F. Benson by the author, March 9, 1999, Lakewood, Colorado; Benson owns four different postcards of the exterior of the building printed in the early 1960s.

73 National Register nomination, additional documentation, August 30, 1996.

74 National Register nomination, additional documentation, addendum, October 9, 1997, cover sheet. The additional documentation was approved by the National Register, February 26, 1998.

75 R. H. Lewis, draft, "Reexamination of the Museum Phases of Mission 66," June 22, 1960; Harpers Ferry Archives. A September 1965 addendum to this report singles out the "exact reproduction of the Wright Brothers' powered plane" as one of the "fine specimens" displayed in Mission 66 exhibit areas.

76 In addition, Giurgola wrote that "for new needs a new building, separate from the existing, may be built while the old one could serve well as a meeting place for seminar classes, ceremonial receptions, etc., when properly restored." Romaldo Giurgola to Carol Shull, March 4, 1997; Ehrman Mitchell to the author, June, 15, 1999.


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