This poster was presented at A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.
By Carter Hudgins and Amalia Leifeste
Planned and constructed between 1936 and 1942, Kings Mountain National Military Park was one of two Recreational Demonstration Areas developed in South Carolina and one of 46 undertaken in the US by the CCC and the National Park Service. Intended like all projects of its kind to provide relief to unemployed young men, construction of Kings Mountain National Military Park (KMNMP) also embraced the larger goals of transforming worn-out, marginal, eroded farmland into recreational facilities that would serve the residents of the mill towns that dotted western North and South Carolina. Soon after its completion, the park was partitioned into an interpretative unit managed by NPS and a recreational area managed by the South Carolina state park authorities (now SC PRT). The larger SCPRT area today contains most of the CCC buildings, structures and sites. Faced with the on-going challenge of maintaining this important assemblage of CCC-era buildings (there are 98 contributing buildings and structures within the park boundaries), NPS, in partnership, with SCPRT, has embarked on an effort to complete historic structures conditions assessments of these buildings. Part of this effort is the completion of HABS-level architectural documentation drawings of the most important buildings in this assemblage and representative examples of buildings types, recreational cabins, for example.
Original blueprints and schematic landscape drawings of the Kings Mountain National Military Park’s CCC-era structures endure in the archives of various South Carolina institutions. This paper assesses the distance between the buildings and landscapes that planners and designers imagined and the historic resources that NPS and SCPRT protect today. Do the technicalities of a group of buildings’ material composition and construction methods reveal shortages and surpluses in certain knowledge and supplies available to the work force? Some of these differences between record drawings and today’s architectural investigations illuminate how crews of workers implemented, interpreted, and modified the plans that they were given to guide construction. Once such example is the difference in construction methods of the mess halls at the Cherokee and York campsites. The buildings were intended to be identical, based on the fact that only one set of construction drawings was developed for both buildings, yet different roof framing techniques reveal that the original structures were not, in fact, perfect duplicates. Furthermore, small adaptations since construction have evolved the two structures into ever more distinct buildings. The mess halls, along with other primary CCC-era structures, show how the buildings have changed, or in the words of Stuart Brandt how the buildings have ‘learned’ over time. Have CCC-era proven to be adaptable buildings that grant insight into the changing needs over their seven decades of service? This paper demonstrates how conditions assessment, when paired with archival research and architectural investigation, can deepen the understanding of the buildings, their designer and their builders and perhaps even the distance between the two groups charged with project visioning and execution of the structures.
Carter L. Hudgins is director of the joint Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. A native of the small Tidewater Virginia town of Franklin, Hudgins completed a BA at the University of Richmond and an MA at Wake Forest University prior to receiving the PhD in early American history at the College of William and Mary. Trained as an historian and archaeologist, Hudgins has interspersed work in both the public and private sector through his academic career. A field archaeologist with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources early in his career, he later served for seven years as director of Historic Charleston Foundation. Prior to his appointment to the faculties of Clemson University and the College of Charleston, Hudgins was a member of the history faculties at the University of Alabama/Birmingham where he implemented the graduate curriculum in public history and the University of Mary Washington where he was chairperson of both the Department of History and American Studies (2002-2008) and the Department of Historic Preservation (1984-1993), a program in which he held appointment as the Hofer Distinguished Professor of Early American Culture and Historic Preservation. Hudgins research interests include vernacular architecture in early America and early modern material culture of the Atlantic rim. Hudgins has directed archaeological projects in Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, and Ireland and completed architectural surveys in Alabama and Virginia. He is currently completing an archaeological investigation of an abandoned seventeenth-century town on the Caribbean island of Nevis where he is also participating in the analysis of the sites of two large, eighteenth-century slave villages. Hudgins has also participated in an NEH-funded project that has begun the first systematic identification, documentation, and analysis of slave housing in the Chesapeake with colleagues at the University of Mary Washington and Mount Vernon.
Amalia Leifeste received her bachelor of architecture degree from the University of Oregon. The school’s focus on sustainable, contextual design and the social dimensions of architecture characterize her work there and professionally. Her exposure to a wide range of projects while in practice, including remodels and large-scale, adaptive use projects, led to her interest in sensitive design interventions within existing buildings. Deeping her interest in these subject, Leifeste earned her post-professional master of architecture degree from the University of Texas at Austin, including certificates in both sustainable design and historic preservation. She is now an assistant professor with the Clemson University/College of Charleston Joint Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. She teaches documentation, preservation studio, history of building technology and sustainable preservation courses. Her research is in the vein of Science and Technology Studies looking at the social forces that produce the built environment and the way groups read meaning into their cultural heritage.