The first development at the Beaver Creek Administrative Area in what became Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park was in 1908, when Forest Service ranger Al Austin built the Stewart Ranger Station in what was then known as Teton National Forest. Between 1908 and 1929, there were a few small additions to the landscape, including three buildings, a road, fencing, and a flagpole. When Grand Teton became a National Park in 1929, the National Park Service took over the land and used it as a utility and administrative site. The 1930s brought new infrastructure to the park which conformed to the Park Service’s rustic building style. With funds from the New Deal program, the Park Service had a superintendent residence built, and they designed this first construction in the area to look rustic. The Civilian Conservation Corps added log cabins, garages, and buildings to the landscape. In addition, replanting natural vegetation was key to blending human development with the region’s natural aesthetic.
The Beaver Creek Administrative Area continued to serve as the park’s headquarters from 1929 until 1958, when a new site near Moose, Wyoming replaced it. The original administrative area remains one of the easiest-to-identify National Park Service rustic sites in the United States. The use of unprocessed building materials like the lodgepole pine trees and river stones create a sense that the building grew directly out of the landscape, and the dark brown paint and green-rolled asphalt roofing meld the buildings with the natural color palette of the Teton forest. The absence of decorative design helps these man-made structures further blend into their environment. The Forest Service buildings that remain in Beaver Creek have undergone renovations since their construction in 1908 which combined the two log buildings into one under a new roof and added porches to the east and west sides of the structure.
The historic administrative area has been a topic of debate for Grand Teton National Park in years past. The buildings are still in use as housing, offices, and storage, but the NPS believes the area is an opportunity to showcase National Park designed rustic architecture. Accommodating both tourism and administrative operation requires conscience respect for the the size and design of the historic district. These buildings stand the test of time and exemplify the conservation movement and rustic architecture that the National Parks strove for in the 1930s.