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Identification:

Preferred Structure Name:
Moraine Park Museum Amphitheater
Structure Number:
B-0834-N
Other Structure Name(s):
 
Other Structure Name(s)
No records.
Park:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Historic District:
 
Historic District
1. 
Moraine Park Museum & Amphitheater
Structure State:
Colorado
Structure County:
Larimer
Region:
Intermountain
Cluster:
Rocky Mountain
Administrative Unit:
Rocky Mountain National Park
LCS ID:
477797
 
Historical Significance:

National Register Status:
Entered - Documented
National Register Date:
06/15/2005
National Historic Landmark?:
No
Significance Level:
Local
Short Significance Description:
This property is significant at the local level under criteria A (entertainment/recreation, politics/government) and C (landscape architecture) with a period of significance of 1923-1955.
Long Significance Description:
In October 1976, the Keeper first entered Rocky Mountain National Park's Moraine Park Museum, also known as the Moraine Park Visitor Center (5LR477, LCS 10503), in the National Register of Historic Places. That early nomination, by Ranger-Naturalist D. Ferrel Atkins, focused on the building itself and its association with the Moraine Park Lodge. The June 1987 Multiple Resource Nomination for Rocky Mountain National Park also noted the Moraine Park Museum for its representation of the Pioneer Settlement and the Development of the Resort Industry and its relation to the theme of NPS Rustic Architecture within Rocky Mountain National Park. This 2005 amendment adds other important features in the Moraine Park landscape, including the associated amphitheater. The Moraine Park Museum, amphitheater, drainage structures, trails, entry road, parking lot, and vegetation all contribute to a cultural landscape (entered as an historic district). Since the Museum is already listed in the National Register, the addition of these other features recognizes their historic relationship to the museum building.

The Moraine Park Museum and Amphitheater are eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places under Criteria A and C, meeting the registration requirements set forth in the Rocky Mountain National Park Multiple Property Listing. Under Criterion A, the Moraine Park Museum building is eligible in the area of Entertainment/ Recreation for its association with the early resort industry and tourism in the Estes Park region, with a period of significance starting in 1923 and ending in 1931. Under Criterion A, the Moraine Park Museum and Amphitheater district is significant in the area of Politics/Government for the involvement of 1930s federal relief agencies, specifically the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and Emergency Conservation Works (ECW), with a period of significance from 1936-1937. The district is also eligible under Criterion C in the area of Landscape Architecture; the design and relationship of the building and its associated structures reflect National Park Service (NPS) Naturalistic Design of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

Additionally, the Moraine Park Museum and Amphitheater reflect the national trends described in Linda Flint McClelland’s Historic Park Landscapes in National and State Parks Multiple Property Listing. In this second context, the Moraine Park Museum and Amphitheater are eligible under Criterion A, with a period of significance from 1936-1955, in the area of Entertainment/Recreation for its connection to the twentieth-century movement to develop national parks for public enjoyment, as well in the area of Politics/Government for the principles and practices of park landscape design used by the park in CCC projects. The Museum and Amphitheater are also eligible under Criterion C in the area of Landscape Architecture for a design that reflects NPS Naturalistic Design of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
 
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
1935
AD
1937
AD
ECW/CCC
Other
2. 
Designed
1935
AD
1935
AD
GFG
Engineer
3. 
Designed
1935
AD
1935
AD
NPS Branch of Plans and Design
Architect
4. 
Designed
1935
AD
1935
AD
NPS Office of the Chief Engineer
Engineer
 
Function and Use:

Primary Historic Function:
Ampitheater
Primary Current Use:
Ampitheater
Structure Contains Museum Collections?:
No
Other Functions or Uses:
 
Other Function(s) or Use(s)
Historic or Current
No records.
 
Physical Description:

Structure Type:
Grounds/Landscape
Square Feet:
9375
Material(s):
 
Structural Component(s)
Material(s)
1. 
Foundation
Earth
2. 
Superstructure
Wood
3. 
Foundation
Granite
Short Physical Description:
The amphitheater has an eliptical shape with 16 rows of wood seats, a stage, and stone steps.
Long Physical Description:
Located about 100 feet northwest of the Museum lies the Moraine Park Amphitheater, an elliptical structure 125 feet long by 75 feet wide. The design maximizes the use of the bowl-shaped setting and native materials to carefully craft a space that blends with the environment, enhancing the naturalness of the site. The earth cut from the seating area of the amphitheater was likely used to create the terrace holding the stage.

The elliptical stage includes the remains of a stone fire ring and the projection screen. Two stone and concrete footers that held the log posts of the movie screen are present, but the actual wooden picture screen, on which the slides and movies were projected, no longer exists. Stones that once defined the ring of the circular fire pit can still be seen in front of the screen foundation; a few large stones remain in situ, revealing their smooth surface on the floor of the stage. The stage is enclosed by a curtain wall of ponderosa pines.

Sixteen rows of seats in two arcs ascend from the stage area, arranged in an irregular fan shape, facing the stage and fire pit. The seats sit on somewhat regular stones some 10” high. Concrete mortar stabilizes the rocks holding the rectangular seating planks. Timber wedges (11" x 4") lie on these stone walls about 4-5 feet apart, with rectangular planks of milled lumber (2¼" x 11" x 4-6") nailed to the wedges. The joinery between the planks as well as the wedges use large unfinished nails. The planks are painted dark brown. The seating between rows 10 and 13 in the right arc is broken to accommodate an existing tree in a rectangular planting bed. Lighting fixtures installed under the seats remain but no longer function.

Three main circulation paths with stone steps provide access to the seats. The aisle in the center is the most regular, about 4 feet wide. Those on the sides hug closely to the natural slope. Large stones and pines surround the northern corner of the seating area. The circulation path of the south side is defined by a line of pines.

At an unknown time, the National Park Service removed the projection booth and screen. No major alterations or demolitions have occurred since its construction.