This presentation was part of A Century of Design in the Parks Symposium, Santa Fe, New Mexico, June 21-23, 2016.
by J.T. Stark, Preservation Program Manager, Division of Preservation and Facilities Management, Bandelier National Monument
This paper serves as a primer for the field trip to Bandelier National Monument. Field trip participants will join Bandelier preservation staff for demonstrations and walking presentations that will offer greater depth to the topics covered in this paper. Presentations and demonstrations will take place in the Civilian Conservation Corps. (CCC) National Historic Landmark (NHL) District and the Frijoles Canyon Archeological District.
Bandelier National Monument preserves more than 3,000 archeological sites, as well as one of the largest collections of CCC constructed buildings in the National Park system. The CCC constructed 31 buildings between 1934 and 1941 using local materials and designed in the Pueblo Revival style (recognized at the time as the Santa Fe style). The CCC built the buildings as part of a landscape specifically designed with regional cultural traits in mind. Lyle Bennett and Tom Vint were among other landscape architects with the National Park Service (NPS) who designed the landscape and incorporated many design aspects popular at the time and that still retain significance to this day.
Preserving the integrity and character of the CCC NHL District presents frequent and significant challenges that demand innovative strategies in combination with proven approaches. Neglect to establish regular maintenance cycles over the past 30 years substantially accelerated deterioration in various architectural elements resulting in one of the principal challenges confronting preservationists today. In addition to decades of neglect, the sheer size of the district coupled with unremitting and exhaustive use by NPS staff and visitors present important challenges regarding contemporary use of historic buildings and securing sufficient funding to not only address legacy condition issues, but also in keeping step with and establishing routine maintenance cycles. The semi-arid climate at Bandelier National Monument promotes the preservation of many types of architectural elements, but can also hinder efforts when taking into account solar intensity on wooden elements such as windows, doors and viga ends. Snowmelt and intense summer rain storms also accelerate deterioration, particularly with exterior masonry and roof systems.
The Frijoles Canyon Archeological District includes the most frequently interpreted and visited archaeological sites at Bandelier National Monument – Tyuonyi Pueblo, Talus House and Alcove House. Not typical for discussions regarding a century of design in the parks, these sites, however, possess standing architecture almost entirely reconstructed in the past century or maintained with specific intent reflective of outdoor exhibit design in the NPS over the past century. These sites offer their own set of challenges to consider when approaching the preservation of Ancestral Pueblo sites for the education and enjoyment of the visiting public while also holding in high esteem concern for scientific integrity, and structural stability.
Preservation efforts at these two districts offer a broad array of challenges and subsequent approaches. Preservationists at Bandelier National Monument must, on a daily basis, balance the needs identified by management regarding visitor access, safety and enjoyment with the need to appropriately preserve a National Historic Landmark district and a nationally significant archeological district in spite of recurring environmental, administrative and operational stress.
J.T. Stark is the Preservation Program Manager at Bandelier National Monument. He directs several preservation crews tasked with documenting, maintaining and stabilizing the park’s Ancestral Pueblo archeological sites and the historic stone buildings comprising the Civilian Conservation Corps National Historic Landmark District. He started his park service career at Navajo National Monument as a preservation crew chief in 2005 and continued as an archeologist at Flagstaff Area National Monuments through 2009 when he joined the preservation program at Bandelier National Monument. His research interests include North American archaeology and ethnology with an emphasis on the historic and prehistoric Southwest and Southeast. Topical interests include cultural resource management, historic and ruins preservation, Indigenous issues, condition assessments and intensive architectural documentation.