S. 312

Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park Redesignation Act

STATEMENT OF ROBERT VOGEL, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE SENATE ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES SUBCOMMITTEE ON NATIONAL PARKS, CONCERNING S. 312, TO REDESIGNATE THE SAINT-GAUDENS NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE AS THE “SAINT-GAUDENS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK “, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES.

JULY 19, 2016
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Chairman Daines, Ranking Member Hirono, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to present the Department of the Interior’s views on S. 312, a bill to redesignate the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park”, and for other purposes.  

The Department supports S. 312.

S. 312 would redesignate the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish, New Hampshire, as the “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park.”   This bill would not have a significant financial impact on the park as the National Park Service would update maps and signage as a part of routine maintenance and reordering of interpretive materials.  We note that this bill has been modified from the version introduced in the 114th Congress and we appreciate the sponsor’s willingness to propose a redesignation that fits with the National Park System’s naming conventions.

Authorized in 1964, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site preserves the home, studios, gardens, and artwork of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), the greatest American sculptor of the Gilded Age.  During his career, Saint-Gaudens completed a variety of important monuments and memorials around the country, many of them, like the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial in Boston, Massachusetts; the Sherman Monument and Farragut Monument in New York City; and the Standing and Seated Abraham Lincoln monuments in Chicago, Illinois, memorializing heroes of the Civil War.  

Saint-Gaudens began his association with Cornish, New Hampshire, in 1885 when he and his family began using the property that today comprises Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site as their summer residence.  The presence of the famous sculptor in Cornish attracted a variety of other artists to the area, forming the Cornish Colony of Artists, one of the earliest examples of an unplanned artist colony in the United States.  The colony included painters, sculptors, authors, poets, playwrights, musicians, architects, and many other artistic disciplines, and during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, served as the summer White House.  

In addition to the Saint-Gaudens estate, Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site also includes the Blow-Me-Down Farm, historically the social hub of the Cornish Colony, which was added to the park via a donation from the park’s partner group, the Saint-Gaudens Memorial, in 2010.  This addition expanded the park’s interpretive themes beyond Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his work to include the full range of artists and artistic disciplines, as well as the historical impact of the Cornish Colony.

Generally, National Park System units designated as national historic sites tell a discrete story or contain a small number of historic resources related to that story.  National Park System units designated as national historical parks have a greater diversity of historical resources and interpretive themes and may be spread out over non-contiguous lands.  The addition of the Blow-Me-Down Farm to the park in 2010 added new historical resources and interpretive themes to Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site.  This increased scope provides a basis for supporting redesignating this park as a national historical park. The name “Saint-Gaudens National Historical Park” would incorporate the word “park” into the title, and it would better reflect the broad historical context and resource diversity found at this park, while conforming to naming conventions for National Park System units.

Chairman Daines, this concludes my statement.  I would be pleased to answer questions that you or other members of the committee might have.