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Bandelier National Monument Visitor Center
The Visitor Center is a typical example of the Spanish-Pueblo style architecture of CCC buildings at the Bandelier National Monument and was the occasion for a significant collection of New Deal art.
The original Administration Building, designed by Lyle Barcume, was the second CCC building and the first piece of the present Visitor Center to be erected, in 1935. The ground floor contained the custodian’s office, a central clerical space, and an area for visitors to check in; a basement underneath the clerical area was used for storage and as a work area.
In 1936, A. Paul Brown designed the museum, which was built to the east of the Administration Building and connected to it with a Spanish Colonial portico (portal). Artists employed in the Federal Art Project, the visual arts program of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration, contributed to the exhibits: Pablita Velarde from Santa Clara Pueblo (born Tse Tsan) painted over seventy pictures illustrating Pueblo culture; Helmuth Naumer drew pastels of Native American pueblos in the Rio Grande Valley and scenes of Bandelier and the Pajarito Plateau; Chris Jorgensen painted a desert landscape watercolor; and John Raymond Terken sculpted architectural models and a series of crania for an exhibit on Native American physiology. Velarde’s work at Bandelier helped to launch her career and made her, by 1950, the foremost Pueblo woman painter. The artworks have since been removed to a National Park Service museum in Tucson.
In 1939, Lyle Bennett designed a connecting lobby to combine the administration building and museum into one structure. The lobby provided temporary seating for 100 people to attend movies, slide presentations, and lectures, and was equipped with easy chairs, lamps, and tables, along with a sales counter and bookshelves. Bennett incorporated built-in benches ( bancos) along the walls and a corner fireplace ( fogón), and CCC carpenters created the decorated architectural woodwork, furniture, and fittings. When it was completed, the richly ornamented lobby provided a place for tourists to gather and orient themselves before visiting the monument. Although the National Park Service would not begin to erect actual visitor centers until the 1950s, the building’s combination of a check-in area, museum, lecture hall, and bookstore formed the germ of an idea that would later come to fruition.
This National Park Services site is open to the public during regularly scheduled hours, with shuttle transportation from the White Rock Visitor Center required for park entry between late May and mid October.
Allaback, Sara. Mission 66 Visitor Centers: The History of a Building Type. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 2000.
Dockstader, Frederick J., and Jennifer Vigil."Pablita Velarde." Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press. Accessed January 20, 2015. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/.
Harrison, Laura Soullière. “Bandelier C.C.C. Historic District, 1933, Bandelier National Monument.” In Architecture in the Parks: National Historic Landmark Theme Study, 355-382 .Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1986.
Harrison, Laura Soullière, Randall Copeland, and Roger Buck. Historic Structure Report: CCC Buildings, Bandelier National Monument.Denver: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, 1988.
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