Architectural Assessment: Fort Verde State Historic Park

Summary

Fort Verde State Historic Park provides a vivid glimpse into post Civil War garrison life on the frontier. Though only four of the Fort buildings remain, staff have achieved a forceful interpretation of the history of the Fort, and, more importantly, a clear and present sense of the soldiers who served a portion of their lives there. The Park is unusual amongst historic site museums in the degree to which aggressive research and documentation is woven through exhibits. The results of this research is maintained as a valuable archive at the Park, specific to the Fort and to territorial developments.

The four historic buildings of the Park date to the Fort construction period 1871-73. Notes taken from the Park introductory flier, included in the appendix, indicate that with cessation of hostilities in the late 1880s the Fort was abandoned to the Department of Interior in 1891, which sold the buildings at auction in 1899. The Camp Verde Historical Society opened a museum in the Adjutant's Office in 1956, and in 1970 this and other buildings were donated to the state for the creation of Fort Verde State Historic Park. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971.

The Adjutant's Office and the three officers' quarters buildings, more substantial than the enlisted barracks and service buildings, survived as, respectively, a school and as residences. Significant additions and alterations to the buildings had been made over time, and early work by the Park entailed the removal of of post-military additions and general rehabilitation. All four of the historic buildings include adobe or rammed earth wall construction with wood frame floors and roofs. The Commanding Officer's Quarters is somewhat different in that it is a two storied post and beam structure with adobe infill at the ground floor level. All of the buildings have painful histories of settlement and resultant cracking, and present for curatorial care considerable headaches. Structural problems are diagrammed and discussed along with other maintenance issues in the general and individual building assessments. Present maintenance of the buildings by Park staff is responsible and resourceful, but capital maintenance needs are obvious, and must soon be addressed with substantial budget allocations.

By the time of time of acquisition by the Park, considerable land from the original Fort had been lost to Camp Verde town streets and houses. The present eleven acre Park includes enough land for interpretation realism, but problems with distracting views and vehicular access are severe. A major planning effort to ease these problems and to enhance Park operations was mounted by staff and town in consultation with Ryden Architects in 1989. The first element of this plan, the public restrooms, has been constructed, but other elements of the plan languish, especially those that would improve site coherence and Park operations. These issues are discussed in the planning section of the report.

The collection of the Park is valuable, but only two pieces of furniture are actually from the Fort. There is no question that the four buildings themselves are the precious and irreplacable artifacts of the collection that should receive focused curatorial care for posterity. Included in this responsibility is a presumption that careful records must be kept on the construction and maintenance history of each building. This collective record should receive archival respect, and recommendations are made for this work in the records section.

A final summary observation is here offered. The Fort is a park, stalled and administered by Arizona State Parks, but clearly is significant first for its values as a historic site, not for traditional recreation. Additional recognition of special skills for the operations and maintenance of such historic sites is badly needed. Maintenance and preservation planning for historic museum buildings is more complex than that required for recently constructed buildings, and deserves curatorial guidance. The Fort staff is doing a fine job with the resources at hand, but Arizona State Parks would wisely add coordinated support staff in the Building Maintenance Section and Historic Preservation to assist the six historic parks within its responsibility, including Fort Verde.

Cite this Record

Architectural Assessment: Fort Verde State Historic Park. Robert Munson, Nora Graf, Jeff Moore, Terri Leverton. Georgetown, CO: Long Hoeft Architects. 1992 ( tDAR id: 399343) ; doi:10.6067/XCV80C4XMJ

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Temporal Coverage

Calendar Date: 1871 to 1873 (Years of construction of surviving historic buildings.)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -111.872; min lat: 34.554 ; max long: -111.834; max lat: 34.58 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Arizona State Parks

Sponsor(s): National Institute for the Conservation of Cultural Properties

Prepared By(s): Long Hoeft Architects

File Information

  Name Size Creation Date Date Uploaded Access
Fort-Verde-Architectural-Assessment.pdf 2.48mb Oct 1, 1992 Sep 23, 2015 12:22:20 PM Public
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