New Mexico New Deal Sites November 2018 - Photo #74 - White Sands National Monument Visitor Center

Photo: 9 November 2018
White Sands National Monument Visitor Center (and accompanying buildings, roads, and landscaping), Tularosa, New Mexico, were built in 1936-1938 with National Park Service (NPS) design, Civil Works Administration (CWA) and Works Progress Administration (WPA) funding and/or labor [1,2,3,4,5], with Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and National Youth Administration contributions[7]. "Set in a landscape of native plants, the historic district preserves this unique architectural style and is a tribute to the plans of the architects and the fine artisanship of the WPA workers."[2]

"The White Sands Visitor Center, the fence between the visitor center and the residential area, and three of the homes within the residential area are made of adobe. These buildings are an excellent example of Spanish Pueblo adobe, otherwise known as Pueblo-Revival architecture. Lyle Bennett, who is considered the master of the Pueblo-Revival style, designed and worked on these buildings. Work began in 1936 and was completed in 1938. Various government agencies, including the Works Progress Administration (WPA), cooperated in the construction. The WPA was the largest of the New Deal agencies created by President Roosevelt during his time in the White House, employing millions of workers via public works projects during the Great Depression. Projects included constructing public buildings and roads and operating literacy programs."[3]

"The Historic Distract at White Sands National Monument (WSNM) consists of eight Pueblo Revival buildings constructed in the late 1930s by Civil Works Administration workers as a Recreation Demonstration and Emegency Conservation Work project. It is understood to have have been done at the cost of $31,000. This included the main Visitor Center including the museum and structures with similar architectureal styles used for housing staff and maintenance activities. The centerpiece of the district is the Monument Administration and Museum Building, constructed in 1936-37. This two story building with patios and portals was beautifully finished inside with exposed viga and latilla ceilings, a corner fireplace, tin work fixtures which were made by the National Youth Administration (NYA) girls at Camp Capitan in Baca Canyon in nearby Capitan, New Mexico. The Colonial style furnishings were created by CCC workers. Landscaping with native plants was done at the time of construction along with the trails and roads throughout the park. The CCC was also responsible for this. The White Sands New Mexico Historic District was found eligible to be included in the National Register [6-23-88] for its architecture and its association with the history of the National Park Service (NPS), particularly the NPS emphasis on the use of local materials and rustic styles in construction of park buildings."[7]

  1. White Sands National Monument Historic Residences Rehabilitation Fact Sheet, National Park Service (undated): "Between 1937 and 1939 the WPA built structures at White Sands National Monument to house park staff and serve visitors. The buildings ... were added to the National Register in 1988 as were many other WPA-era buildings in the region ... The WPA-built residences, along with the visitor center and maintenance buildings at the park are also part of the White Sands Historic District."
  2. Visitor Center, White Sands National Monument website, dated 8 June 2017, accessed 24 November 2018.
  3. Adobe and Our Visitor Center, White Sands National Monument, National Park Service, 1 October 2011.
  4. A Short History of White Sands National Monument, National Park Service: "Plans for the construction of a visitor center with a museum, restrooms, residences for park staff, an administration building, and maintenance shed began in 1935. Funding and labor for the construction came from the largest agency of President Roosevelt's New Deal, the Works Progress Administration (WPA). These facilities, which are still in use today, were completed in 1938."
  5. Michael Welsh, Dunes and Dreams: A History of White Sands National Monument, National Park Service, Division of History, Professional Paper No.55, 1995.
  6. National Park Service Cultural Landscapes Inventory 1998, White Sands NM Historic District, White Sands National Monument (Revised 2005).
  7. Kathryn A. Flynn, Public Art and Architecture in New Mexico 1933-1943: A guide to the New Deal Legacy, Sunstone Press (2012), p.20.
  8. Civil Works Administration (CWA) (1933), Living New Deal website, accessed 25 November 2018.
  9. Works Progress Administration (WPA) (1935), Living New Deal website, accessed 25 November 2018.
  10. Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (1933), Living New Deal website, accessed 25 November 2018.
  11. National Youth Administration (NYA) (1935)", Living New Deal website, accessed 25 November 2018.