On behalf of the City of Longview, Artifacts prepared a preservation plan for Lake Sacajawea Park. A preservation plan for a historic resource (or collection of historic resources) is a written and illustrated reference document that provides a thorough historic and architectural evaluation. In compiling the preservation plan for Lake Sacajawea Park, Artifacts conducted a detailed survey and inventory of the significant features and spaces of the park during the summer and fall of 2009. A condition assessment for the resource was prepared as well as recommendations for the City’s continued stewardship of the property.
The abundant timber stands in Washington attracted lumber baron R. A. Long to the area. A successful lumberman in Kansas City and the chairman of the Long-Bell Lumber Company, Long began to look towards westward expansion in the late 1910s. He purchased his first land in Washington in 1919, quickly acquiring 70,000 acres of prime timber north of the Columbia River. Following the timberland acquisition, Long began the process of selecting a site for a lumber mill to process the timber. Upon the advice of his chief engineer, Wesley Vandercook, Long selected a marshy valley at the confluence of the Cowlitz and Columbia rivers.
Recognizing he would have to provide some kind of housing for his workers, Long began to develop the idea to establish Longview (as the city came to be called) as a true city. Long became the city’s founder, benefactor, and most enthusiastic fan. He retained Kansas City landscape designers – a team comprised of J. C. Nichols, architecture firm Hare & Hare, and landscape architect George Kessler – to design the city. As a result, in the 1920s, Longview became the largest privately funded city to begin life as a master plan.
One anchor for the city’s master plan was a large, naturalistic park surrounding Lake Sacajawea, a crescent of connected lakes a mile and a half long. A pair of graceful, wide boulevards bound the park and provide visitors with views of the park and some of the city’s finest residences. The lake was an integral part of Hare’s design, a natural respite from the stress of city life. Today, the park is listed to the National Register of Historic Places.
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Undated view of Longview Community Church through Lake Sacajawea Park. Courtesy Washington State University Special Collections, http://content.libraries.wsu.edu/cdm/
Contemporary view of a pedestrian pathway in Lake Sacajawea Park
Contemporary view of the lake