Pictured L to R: William Frazier (LM), David Shafer (LM), Padraic Benson (LM), Jon Horn (Alpine Archaeological Consultants, Inc.), Dr. April Gil (LM), Jon Maraschin (Riverview Technology Corporation); and Sam Marutzky (LM support contractor). (Photo courtesy of History Colorado.)
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grand Junction, Colorado, Office (GJO), on February 1, 2017, received Colorado’s first State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award in recognition of GJO’s National Register nomination.
Presenting at the awards ceremony in Denver, Steve W. Turner, AIA, History Colorado executive director and state historic preservation officer, praised GJO’s enthusiastic compliance with the historic preservation review process mandated by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. The newly named award is intended for those “who go above and beyond” to preserve and share history, Turner said.
“I am so pleased and proud to accept the award,” Dr. April Gil told the audience of about 200. Gil is the DOE Office of Legacy Management (LM) GJO manager. “This team worked together to make this happen.”
Last year GJO was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its important, historical roles in the Manhattan Project and the Cold War. The complex along the Gunnison River south of Grand Junction traces its origins to 1943, when the U.S. government purchased a former gravel mine and log cabin/office as a uranium processing site for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Manhattan Engineer District.
Turner elaborated on his award selection. “What’s remarkable is that the preservationists who worked to save the buildings and site were so successful. It’s not every day that private, government, and historical interests can come together to preserve a piece of our past. The passion of Dr. Gil, Mr. [Jon] Horn, Mr. [Jon] Maraschin, and everyone else who worked to preserve and nominate the office to the National Register of Historic Places is truly remarkable. It was an easy decision.”
In 2001 DOE transferred 46 acres of the original 55.71-acre site to Riverview Technology Corporation (RTC), a business-development nonprofit sponsored by Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction. Jon Maraschin is executive director of RTC, from which DOE still leases offices at the site. The log cabin that served as the original refinery office during the Manhattan Project era is planned to open as a learning center in 2018, in conjunction with GJO’s 75th anniversary.
“From the beginning, the Grand Junction Office included the History Colorado Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation in their plans for the log cabin,” Turner said. “They even initiated the Section 106 process to make sure all their bases were covered before they had finalized their plans. They included us in the planning process every step of the way. They didn’t wait until the end to seek out consultations. They consulted with us early and often, which is the best way to ensure a successful Section 106 process.” GJO’s National Register nomination was prepared by Jon Horn with Alpine Archaeological Consultants Inc. in Montrose, Colorado. Horn’s “personal knowledge of Colorado’s mining history made a big difference in this effort,” Turner said.
There were seven winners of the 2017 Stephen H. Hart Awards—newly renamed for the state’s first historic preservation officer—which recognize outstanding projects and individual achievements in archaeology and historic preservation in Colorado. The event name was changed from the History Colorado Awards to the Stephen H. Hart Awards for Historic Preservation to focus more on preservation. The President’s Award was renamed the State Historic Preservation Officer’s Award for the same reason.
“I couldn’t be happier with how the stakeholders came together to make sure this piece of history is preserved. This resource is valuable at the state, national, and international levels,” Turner said. “It really is a model of how preservation efforts can be both successful and bring a real benefit to our understanding of history.”
For more on the GJO listing, go to the National Register webpage https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/16000470.htm and the History Colorado webpage History Colorado: Listings on the National & State Registers: Mesa County—Grand Junction.