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Identification:

Preferred Structure Name:
Visitor Center
Structure Number:
B41
Other Structure Name(s):
 
Other Structure Name(s)
1. 
Visitor Center and Administrative Offices
Park:
Colorado National Monument
Historic District:
 
Historic District
1. 
Colorado National Monument Visitor Center Complex
Structure State:
Colorado
Structure County:
Mesa
Region:
Intermountain
Cluster:
Colorado Plateau
Administrative Unit:
Colorado National Monument
LCS ID:
052109
 
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Entered - Documented
National Register Date:
07/15/2003
National Historic Landmark?:
No
Significance Level:
State
Short Significance Description:
The Visitor Center is significant under Criteria A for its association with the Mission 66 program. It also meets Criterion C as an excellent representation of Mission 66 Architecture and Criteria G as an outstanding example of Mission 66 architecture. The period of significance is 1963-1965.
Long Significance Description:
Constructed between 1963-1965, the Visitor Center Complex is an excellent representation of NPS Mission 66 planning and design. The complex meets National Register Criterion A for its association with the Mission 66 program, which represented a significant change in NPS planning, management, and architecture. Within the NPS system, Mission 66 was an over-arching program that resulted in the construction of new housing, maintenance areas, entrance stations, roads, parking lots, comfort stations, campgrounds and concessionaire buildings, as well as the design of a new NPS arrowhead and uniform.

The Visitor Center Complex - as created by NPS architect Cecil Doty, who was the NPS's primary Mission 66 architect and who designed the Visitor Center Building; NPS architect Phil Romigh, who finalized the plans for Bookcliff Shelter; and NPS landscape architect Babbitt Hughes, who designed Canyon Rim Trail - also meets Criterion C as an excellent representation of several key elements of Mission 66 design. These include the advent of modern architecture into the national parks, the siting of the visitor center complex adjacent to the park's major resources, using terraces and window walls to provide significant views of natural features, the centralization of park services within one compound, a floor plan that segregates public areas from administrative areas and encourages "visitor flow" through the building, the use of natural materials that reflect the surrounding landscape and the construction of adjacent overlooks and trails.

Although the Visitor Center Complex is less than 50 years old, it is eligible to the National Register under Criterion Consideration G as an exceptional example of NPS Mission 66 planning and Park Service Modern Architecture in Colorado. The registration requirements for Mission 66 visitor centers are: 1) the visitor center must have been originally planned and built as part of Mission 66 and fall within the 1945-1972 period of significance; 2) it should retain most all of the distinguishing characteristics of a Mission 66 visitor center; 3) it should possess physical integrity; and 4) it should be a successful reflection of the principles of Park Service Modern Architecture. The Colorado National Monument Visitor Center, which was one of the original Mission 66 visitor centers, meets all these criteria for National Register listing, including the criterion for exceptional significance.
 
Construction Period:

Construction Period:
Historic
Chronology:
 
Physical Event
Begin Year
Begin Year AD/BC
End Year
End Year AD/BC
Designer
Designer Occupation
1. 
Built
1962
AD
1965
AD
Doty, Cecil
Architect
2. 
Altered
1980
AD


NPS
Other
3. 
Altered
1984
AD


NPS
Other
4. 
Altered
1989
AD


NPS
Architect
5. 
Altered
1994
AD
1994
AD
NPS - Siroky, Les
Architect
 
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Visitor Contact (Visitor Center)
Primary Current Use:
Visitor Contact (Visitor Center)
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
Yes
Other Functions or Uses:
 
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
1. 
Administrative Office (HDQS)
Historic
2. 
Museum (Exhibition Hall)
Current
3. 
Museum (Exhibition Hall)
Historic
4. 
Administrative Office (HDQS)
Current
 
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Building
Volume:
20,000 - 2,000,000 cubic feet
Square Feet:
3000
Material(s):
 
Structural Component(s)
Material(s)
1. 
Walls
Sandstone/Brownstone
2. 
Framing
Wood
3. 
Roof
Other
4. 
Foundation
Concrete
Short Physical Description:
Visitor Center is a 3,000 sq. ft., 1-story rectangular building with basement. Faced with stone masonry on a poured concrete foundation. Partially, gabled roof of semi-monitor construction with clerestory windows facing southeast. Flagstone entrance and viewing area.
Long Physical Description:
Designed by NPS architect Cecil Doty, the Visitor Center is located near the rim of Wedding Canyon. The building offers large glass windows and an external patio that overlooks the adjacent canyon.

The 3,000-sq.ft. Visitor Center is a 1-story rectangular building with a basement; it is faced with stone masonry on a poured concrete foundation. The facade is sandstone in a random ashlar pattern. The building is comprised of two wings; a central lobby separates the exhibition wing on the west end of the building, and the office wing on the east end. Facing north, the building is side-gabled; the gables meet near the middle of the roof and are offset at different top heights; the roof over the exhibition wing is higher than the roof over the office wing. The sandstone chimney from the mechanical room in the basement punctures the roof at the office wing close to the lobby, near the offsetting gables. The building's overall dimensions are 132'4" long x 46'10" wide across the west end, and 34'10" across the east end. The east elevation is 12'5" from the ground to the bottom of the eave; the pitch of the roof gives that elevation another 4'3" in height. The east elevation also shows nearly a full wall of sandstone facing, with one full-height window at the staircase to the basement. The west elevation shows a complete wall of laid sandstone. The public entrance to the Visitor Center is on the north side, through a full-height glass storefront in the middle front. The back of the building features a rear porch and a rear entrance to the lobby.

The lobby is "L" shaped. The long part of the room stretches from the front entrance to the rear porch; the toe of the "L" extends towards the east, along the glass wall of the rear porch. To the right of the lobby is the public portion (exhibition wing) of the Visitor Center, which includes two rooms: the audio-visual room (which includes a projection room and storage room) and the exhibit room. The exhibit room is used to house the park's museum exhibits and has wood-slatted full-height exhibit screens that are original. The audio-visual and exhibit rooms do not have windows or other forms of natural light.

The eastern wing of the Visitor Center encompasses the park's headquarter operations. A 4'0"-wide corridor runs down the middle of the office wing for 57'6". The basement has four small rectangular, horizontal, casement windows. The basement also has a workroom and storage room.

Flagstone flooring in the lobby with vinyl asbestos tile throughout the rest of the building. Walls are painted gypsum wallboard throughout, except for the ceramic tile wainscoting in the restroom. Ceilings are acoustical tile in the lobby, exhibit room, and audio-visual room at a height of 11'0", while the remainder is painted bypsum wallboard at a height of 9'0". The entrance doors to the lobby from the rear and front porches are glass. All of the remaining doors on the first floor are wood. The basement doors are hollow metal and fire-rated.

The building's walls have an exterior of randomly laid natural sandstone veneer with a wood 2 x 4 stud 16" o.c. framed structural wall with 5/8" plywood sheathing that is covered with building paper. A 1" air gap is between the stone and the plywood sheathing. In some places, 4" concrete masonry units are used in place of exterior stud walls. The interior walls are 2 x 4 studs, 16" o.c. and covered with gypsum wallboard. The roof structure is predominately 2 x 12 wood joist studs 16" o.c. connected to a 5-1/4" x 17°/8" flulam beam that runs lengthwise within the structure; 2 x 8 joist extenders are used for eaves on the southwestern end of the building. Now covered with hypalon, the building originally had a composite roof.