Park Structures and Facilties
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HERE IS A PARK BUILDING that often, and with propriety, can recall in its externals the typical pioneer homestead of a locality. In its essentials, the custodian's dwelling, more than any other park structure, is closely similar to the pioneer cabin. This fact makes possible recall of traditional lines and colloquialisms without too evident struggle, which cannot always be said of adaptations in which the old forms and the modern requirements are not so well related.

Thus we may appropriately house the custodian and other park attendants in characteristic frontier log and stone structures, over a wide area geographically, subject to regional variations. Over less-extended areas Spanish, Pueblo, the several manifestations of the Colonial, and other traditional expressions, born of historic background, local materials, and climatic considerations, will be the precedent for the residential structures within a park.

The design of the usual custodian's dwelling, not combined with other needs, is simply the problem of the small, rural dwelling, with a stressing of the importance of fitness to environment. So with living quarters provided for the naturalist, ranger or other personnel of a large park, where the requirement is the accommodation of a family unit. In the instance of the isolated park of considerable area, the problem sometimes varies or expands to embrace barracks or dormitory housing for groups of unmarried employees.

Sometimes, for purposes of control, economy or other reason, living quarters for custodian, concessionaire, and other personnel are combined with other park needs in structures, such as recreation or administration buildings, food concession, entrance gates and checking stations. In a park of limited size this is a logical development in avoidance of small, independent buildings ruinously crowding the area.

Comfortable, well-maintained living quarters in which the park custodian and his family, or other attendants housed, can take personal pride, will undoubtedly find reflection in the attitude of each employee toward maintenance of the public area. It is but natural that patched-up, ramshackle living quarters will influence unfavorably the standards of general park operation.

Since the quarters provided actually supplement the salary paid to custodian or other attendant, it seems desirable and logical that quarters and salary be reasonably scaled to each other. Neither commodious residence in lieu of decent salary, nor substantial salary in lieu of decent living quarters is a satisfactory alternative for living quarters and salary in an appropriate relationship. If this relationship were more carefully considered generally a frequent cause of dissatisfaction on the part of personnel could be eliminated.

The typical custodian's residence is a five-room house, efficiently and compactly planned, with consideration given to climatic conditions, the comfort of the occupants, the traditions of the locality, and the budgetary limitations of both park and occupant. Its location is worthy of careful study. This should be convenient to those points which demand the closest supervision by the custodian or other attendant, yet should not obtrusively invade areas of intensive use by the public. An attendant's residence too convenient to an entrance point tends to put the employee and members of his family "on call" twenty-four hours a day. This is neither fair to them nor to the best interests of the park, and is happily avoided only if the chosen site offers a reasonable amount of privacy during the hours off duty.

Superintendent's House, Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

Simple in design, well arranged, and employing inexpensive materials, here is an adequate custodian's dwelling. Siding of wide boards and battens, placed vertically, succeeds rather better than other economical wood constructions in appearing harmonious with a wooded setting.

Plate T-1 (click on image for a PDF version)

Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

Custodian's Cabin, Staunton River State Park, Virginia

The dwelling here shown is compact and well arranged and has been contrived to appear not inappropriate in a park setting through the apt employment of inexpensive materials. The lines of the building suggest a style that is typical of a number of Virginia cabin groups.

Plate T-2 (click on image for a PDF version)

Staunton River State Park, Virginia

Staunton River State Park, Virginia

Custodian's Cabin, Douthat State Park, Virginia

Here is proof that a log structure can be varied and exciting without breaking with tradition. A stickler for perfection might wish for a shaggier roof, closer joints between logs and a less pronounced terrace line, but he would be a stickler indeed in the face of such high merit in other essentials.

Plate T-3 (click on image for a PDF version)

Douthat State Park, Virginia

Douthat State Park, Virginia

Superintendent's Residence, Mesa Verde National Park

Definitely regional by reason of the technique of its masonry, the projecting vigas, and the shifting parapet levels surmounting flat roofs, this example is rather larger than most of the dwellings shown herein for the accommodation of the family of park custodian or superintendent. The building seems particularly well suited to site and to region. The several corner fireplaces are in the spirit of the architectural prototypes of the American Southwest.

Plate T-4 (click on image for a PDF version)

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park

Custodian's House, Boyle State Park, Arkansas

Although not specifically warned in the moral code against coveting a custodian's house among those worldly holdings that might incite envy, it was surely because such an example as this did not exist at the time. We may forego coveting, but are not to be denied admiring, this excellent plan and the fine use of the materials that so satisfactorily clothe it.

Plate T-5 (click on image for a PDF version)

Boyle State Park, Arkansas

Boyle State Park, Arkansas

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Last Updated: 5-Dec-2011