Shenandoah National Park wants input on plan to remove buildings

Published: Jul. 15, 2016 at 3:39 PM EDT
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The National Park Service (NPS) is considering removing five historic buildings from the Big Meadows area of the Shenandoah National Park, but wants public input before making a decision.

The five buildings stand in the Big Meadows area known as the Big Meadows Cottages or Maids Cabins. The cabins sit behind the Crescent Rock Cottage. The Virginia Sky-Line Company built Cottage A and B around 1933 and Cottage C, D, and E around 1939.

All were constructed and located at Swift Run Gap, approximately 14 miles south of Big Meadows. In 1955, the Virginia Sky-Line Company moved the cottages to their present location, removed the original porches, and added a bathroom extension to the rear of each building.

These cottages are registered as historic places in the Skyland Drive National Historic Landmark District (entered in the National Register of Historic Places on September 19, 1997, amended October 6, 2008).

In the past, the park’s business partners at Big Meadows used these buildings as employee housing and, for the last 10 years, as storage.

In 2013, the park reacquired control of the buildings. The cottages are currently in poor condition. According to the NPS, the park does not have an identified purpose for these cabins and cannot justify the cost to rehabilitate them for another potential use.

The "Draft Cultural Landscape Report for Big Meadows" (2015) recommends removal of the cabins. Aside from the poor condition of the cabins, the report states "...they were not part of the National Park Service master plan for Big Meadows...As employee housing, they were never a highly visible element of the landscape and were not essential elements of the historic Big Meadows development."

Shenandoah National Park currently maintains about 300 historic structures across the entire park. Park officials say that if the buildings are removed, the area will be restored with native vegetation.

The NPS welcomes any comments from the public about the project and its effects to historic properties and the human environment. This is part of scoping for the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) and the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

The public has the opportunity to comment on the proposed action for a 30-day period, ending on August 15, 2016. Maps and photographs of the cottages may be found online

[ here ].

Comments can be posted online

[ here ].

or sent to: Superintendent, Shenandoah National Park, Attn: Big Meadows Cottages, 3655 U.S. Highway, 211 East, Luray, VA 22835.