The Kennedy Years (1956-1964): The Frazier Farm - Last Obstacle to Development

 

Frazier Farm - Last Obstacle to Development

In June 1956, after consulting with Superintendent Kennedy, Glen Frazier's son Lyle offered to sell approximately 31 acres of his property, known as Tract 11, to the National Park Service for $50,000.00 [71] (see map, Appendix H). One year later, Acting Regional Chief of Operations B. F. Manbey reported that the National Park Service preferred the entire tract. [72] To avoid splitting their property, the Fraziers agreed to sell their entire Tract 11, 46 acres, for the same price [73] (see map, Appendix I).

In response to this offer, Assistant Director of the National Park Service Jackson E. Price authorized Regional Director Lawrence C. Merriam "to negotiate an option at the best price obtainable, but not to exceed $38,000.00." [74] When the Fraziers refused to accept the $38,000.00 offer, Regional Director Merriam suggested offering $40,000.00 for the property. [75] Assistant Director Price agreed with the proposal but also recommended that "if the Fraziers will not give us an option to purchase the property for $40,000.00, we see no alternative to recommending condemnation." [76] Indeed, shortly thereafter the government filed for condemnation primarily because mineral rights belonging to former owner Dr. Cowan were discovered, preventing a simple title transfer. The National Park Service had no choice other than to refer the matter to the Federal court. Therefore, on August 3, 1959, suit was filed in the U. S. District Court for Eastern District of Washington, Southern Division for the condemnation of the Frazier Tract 11 for addition to Whitman National Monument. At the same time a Declaration of Taking of Frazier Tract 11 was filed with the taking to be effected by or before January 1, 1960. [77]

In 1959, Glen Frazier moved from Walla Walla so subsequent correspondence occurred between his lawyer, Mr. Mininick and Assistant U. S. Attorney Ronald H. Hull. While each side reevaluated their appraisals before the court hearing, Superintendent Kennedy discovered that the mineral rights belonged to the United States according to the patent issued to the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in 1926. [78] This new information affected the property value so in May 1960, Lyle Frazier visited Superintendent Kennedy and offered to settle out of court for $45,900.00. [79] Kennedy reported that Attorney Hull responded: ". . . he will come down still further rather than go to court." [80] Just as predicted, the Fraziers dropped their offer again, two months later. In response, Regional Director Merriam teletyped to Director Wirth:

Assistant U. S. Attorney Whitaker handling case advises by letter Frazier's attorney has offered settlement at $44,000.00. Whitaker believes offer of settlement should be accepted, as award by trial jury likely to be higher. [81]

Chief of Lands Donald E. Lee agreed with this recommendation, [82] so on October 28, 1960, Regional Chief of Lands B. F. Manbey reported that "the case did not go to trial and settlement was reached at $44,000.00" [83] for the 46.71 acres of land. Four years of negotiations between the Fraziers and the National Park Service culminated in one day, doubling the size of the park and enabling the long-awaited development plans to proceed. Because of the advice of Assistant United States Attornies Ronald H. Hull and Ronald F. Whitaker, and the perseverance of Superintendent Kennedy, the plans first suggested by Senior Archeologist Nusbaum and Dr. Aubrey Neasham in the 1940s were realized--the land necessary for development of a visitor center, superintendent's residence, and utility building belonged to the Whitman National Monument.

 

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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